Young children will now be able to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time through a new StoryWalk® installation at Manaugh Memorial Park in Austin. The Scott County Community Foundation’s Early Childhood Committee invites families to join the movement to combine literacy, exercise, nature, and family bonding.
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in 2007. Her goal was to create something different, fun and interesting for adults to be active with children to help encourage healthy living. She came up with the idea to take pages from a children’s picture book, attach each one to a stake, and line them along a path. Since then, StoryWalk® has spread to all 50 states and 13 foreign countries.
Scott County’s third StoryWalk® installation is made possible through the generosity of a grant from Duke Energy Foundation. The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $2 million annually in charitable gifts to Indiana and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at duke-energy.com/Foundation.
The StoryWalk® will be installed on the walking path around the lake. There will be 20 signs displayed along the trail, and each sign will share an activity that a child can do to be interactive with their surroundings. The first book to be featured is One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count With Me! by John Micklos Jr.
There are two other StoryWalk installations in Scott County, one at Austin Community Park and one at the Scott County Courthouse. The Community Foundation’s Early Childhood Committee rotates the books quarterly, so families are encouraged to check back often for a new book.
The majority of the books will be used from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative, which is a program supported by the Community Foundation, United Way of Scott County, Friends of the Library, Kiwanis Club of Scott County, Scott County School District 2, State of Indiana and numerous other donors. The Imagination Library provides free books for children from ages birth through five, mailed directly to their homes every month. In Scott County, there are currently 863 children receiving the age-appropriate books, and 2,023 children who “graduated” from the program when they turned five.
To celebrate this new StoryWalk® location, an opening reception and ribbon cutting will be held at Manaugh Memorial Park on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. The park is located at 299 Hollan Drive in Austin. The community is invited to attend, with giveaways for children. Visitors are encouraged to take photos and use the hashtag #ScottCountyStoryWalk to share with others.
“The Early Childhood Committee dreamed of bringing something to Scott County that would unite connections with the youngest learners and their caregivers,” said Committee Chairperson Emily Jordan. “By utilizing the Scott County StoryWalk®, families will create a deeper bond and understanding for one another, and will develop necessary developmental skills such as social communication, motor, language development and cognitive skills. While our books will be focused on younger ages, the StoryWalk® project is for all ages and every ability level. We hope everyone enjoys this project the same way and as much as our committee has enjoyed working on it.”
For more information on sponsoring a book, please contact Jaime Toppe at the Community Foundation, 752-2057, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop in the office at 60 N. Main St. You may visit www.scottcountyfoundation.org and visit the StoryWalk® page under the Community Initiatives menu for a current list of the StoryWalk® locations and books.