This article was originally published in CREA’s Spring 2020 Newsletter.
In recent years, many have loved the Preserve’s Storywalk which entices many young story lovers to sprint from storyboard to storyboard along the Barnes Leap Trail (then urging caregivers and parents to “Hurry up!” – readers needed!).
The Storywalk concept, originally developed as a collaboration between several Vermont groups as a way to inspire physical activity, has been a great success at the Preserve. Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to storyboards spaced out along an outdoor path. It looks simple enough, but it takes a mighty group of volunteers to keep it going.
The storyboards, initially constructed by Eagle Scout Joe Beale, have multiplied thanks to Ron Strand and David Vaughn. The boards were stained by Joann Strand, Valerie Chow, and Ellen Bennett two years ago. The books, which change quarterly, are researched and selected by our wonderful Storywalk team of Joann Strand, Carla Rensenbrink, and Jane Littlefield.
Books must meet certain criteria to fit the boards, multiple copies and supplies must be procured, pages have to be laminated in the office and velcroed, the correct page order needs to be maintained (harder than you think when all pages aren’t numbered!), the pages must be attached to the storyboards…and re-attached when they blow away.
The CREA Storywalk has been available to the public since 2018. Last winter, CREA Camp Director Jenny Mueller led a guided ‘hike and read’ for a group of preschoolers and their caregivers, featuring, “Over and Under the Snow,” by Kate Messner.
A Portland Press Herald article (Cathance River Education Alliance: CREA Storywalk Gets Families Moving Outdoors, 1/10/20) described the event as follows: “The takeaway from this event is that children love to be outdoors in any season. While they may be shy at first, they quickly revel in the joy of discovery with their peers. The natural world is the perfect environment for young, developing brains. Many believe unstructured play outdoors promotes strength, creativity, imagination, exploration, risk management, self-confidence, and learning. Ironically, research shows that free time outdoors helps children learn to focus. And, time in nature reduces stress.”
We are SO grateful to our Storywalk team which keeps this going, bringing fresh air and the joy of a good book to so many families in our community.