Imagine that you are walking with a child along a winding path that borders a swiftly flowing creek. Trees tower on both sides with branches spider-webbing through pale blue sky. Bird song, rushing water and crunching footsteps are the only sounds to be heard as you anticipate what happens next in the story. Like, what will little bear do when he wakes up from hibernation and is feeling very hungry? And, who will little bear meet along the way? Finally, there it is, growing closer with every footstep; the next page, mounted on a panel just high enough for curious eyes to see.
In this way, a StoryWalk® book unfolds as the reader embarks on a journey down the trail, moving from page to page, from beginning to end. A unique and entertaining way to read a book, StoryWalks® have been gaining popularity internationally. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library. StoryWalks® have now been installed in 50 states and 11 countries around the world.
The installation of the very first permanent StoryWalk® in Delta County is approaching completion and will be open to the public in early December. The project was initially presented to the Town of Cedaredge by Cedaredge Library manager Cara Morton in the spring of 2016. Cedaredge and Delta libraries have utilized temporary StoryWalks® for programming and outreach events and have seen positive results. The town was supportive of the idea initially, but it did not gain traction until August.
After becoming a HEAL Town (Healthy Eating Active Living) through LiveWell Colorado, the Town of Cedaredge had the opportunity to apply for a small grant in order to implement a HEAL initiative. The HEAL grant was awarded in September and, along with another small grant awarded to the town by Region 10 in August, the necessary funds were available to proceed.
Greg Brinck, intern with the Town of Cedaredge since January 2016, played a key role bringing the StoryWalk® project together. "The StoryWalk® really hits three important aspects of a healthy community: early childhood literacy, physical activity and intergenerational community," Brinck says. "We hope that the StoryWalk® will encourage families to walk, read and enjoy our public trails together."
It appears as if the community shares in Brinck's sentiment regarding the project. With posts being installed on the Surface Creek Trail and news of the project buzzing around town, people are already getting involved. Delta County Libraries has worked in partnership with the town throughout the project and will continue to support its ongoing success. Additionally, a group of Cedaredge High School gifted and talented students, under the guidance of CHS teachers Kevin Dunbar and Michelle Gillis, has volunteered to create the first story to be featured. Jessica Craig, Hannah Hatheway, Julia Jackson, Holly Jenkins and Daizy-Ann McCarthy are writing and illustrating a story about a hungry little bear that wanders into Christmas Town. Cedaredge Elementary School kindergarten classes will get a sneak peek prior to the public opening as CHS students lead them through the StoryWalk®.
"We hope that the children will be encouraged to spend more time outside and spend quality time with their families while using their imaginations," Hannah Hatheway says when asked about the project.
To see the results of this fun, creative collaboration, visit the Surface Creek Trail starting at SE Independence Avenue in Cedaredge during the grand opening Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. Hot apple cider, cookies, activities and stickers will be available for participants. Call the Town of Cedaredge or the Cedaredge Library for more information.