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Health — Pathway at treatment center contains symbolism in its paved trail through the grounds

GARY ALLEN --- - Symbolic -- The 12 steps of recovery from addiction are represented in a visual form along a pathway constructed at Hazelden's Springbrook campus. Each of the 12 stations contains a stone inscribed with the step.While receiving 12-step treatment for addiction issues, patients at Hazelden’s Springbrook facility can now literally walk a 12-step path, as a landscaping project on the campus grounds has been completed.

The paved pathway winds around a rolling grassy meadow, with 12 stops along its length. Each of the stops contains a stone sign displaying the step it represents.

“The stations were designed to reflect the meaning of that particular step,” said Jan Vondrachek, vice president of Hazelden’s northwest region. “You walk around it and there are places to stop and really reflect, really experience that step.”

The stations contain some symbolism representing the goals of that particular step in the program. For example, one of the steps focuses on reflection and taking a personal inventory for those in recovery. Accordingly, that station along the pathway has several mirrors that visitors can look into, a visual manifestation of the reflection step.

The impetus for the pathway began years ago with the clearing of a rough path, an idea brought about by patients.

“What was developed in that time was a rudimentary trail,” Vondrachek said. “It hadn’t taken its full form, but our patients were liking it so we decided to do it the right way. We had a lot of excitement when we did this.”

More than 120 donors contributed funds for the project, which amounted to about $120,000. Factor in the paving on the pathway and the effort totals closer to $200,000. Aspen Creek Landscaping of Sherwood completed the construction of the path.

“They clearly spent time with us to educate themselves on what we do, what does it mean, what is a day like for a patient,” Vondrachek said.

Work began on the project in fall 2013 and wrapped up last July.

“It’s probably one of the most meaningful projects I’ve ever been able to be a part of,” Vondrachek said.

In the future, the facility hopes to add a few more features along the grounds, including potentially a yurt structure for meditation and spiritual workshops as well as a donor wall honoring those who have contributed to the institute’s projects.

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