Shawnee residents can move and read together when StoryWalk comes to Boy Scout Park

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Rotary-Briscoe Boy Scout Park, at the corner of Main and Pesotum in Shawnee.

This week, Peggy Cook, with Pioneer Library System, announced a new family-friendly program that will have residents moving and reading together in Rotary-Briscoe Boy Scout Park — a StoryWalk.

“The library applied for a grant that will bring excitement, fun early literacy and learning in a combination with healthy outdoor activities to Shawnee,” Cook said.

A few years ago in Montpelier, Vermont, the StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson, and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

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Outdoor activities focus on a book (that has its pages separated) placed in display cases along a path, usually in a park, Cook said.

“These will be books that will encourage some healthy activity or eating habits, or build early literacy and reading skills,” she said. “Families walk along the path a look at these books — at child height — and enjoy that time together.”

The Shawnee Public Library has committed to changing out the books periodically, she said.

“The panels include lots of physical activities, like walk like a duck, if it's a book about ducks,” Cook said. “It's all about staying active and building some additional activities the parks to bring more outdoor time and more time together with families.”

She said the project can also be used as an outreach to families that might not be using the library regularly.

“The grant provides 22 aluminum stations with waterproof display cases — and those are coming soon,” she said Monday. “We are delighted that (Brad Schmidt, Shawnee Public Works director) has agreed to receive this very large pallet and install those at Boy Scout Park along the half-mile track and to work with us as a partner to this project.”

The city is going to be a key partner in the effort, Cook said.

The Shawnee Parks and Recreation board was very happy to hear about the opportunity, she said, and has agreed to support the kickoff, as well as an ongoing partnership.

“This is Federal grant money that funnels through the Department of Libraries,” she said. “We do have to provide evaluation and impact stories for a year.”

Cook said StoryWalks already are established in other areas like Purcell and McLoud.

“The grant request has been approved, the equipment has been ordered,” she said. “This is a nationally booming idea, and we're waiting on our delivery date.”

Watch for updates for the kickoff event.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.