Exercise and a story: New StoryWalk has opened on The Thread

Published 11:00 am Friday, March 31, 2023

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By: Olivia Johnson

What do you get when you add The Thread plus the magic of a interactive storytime? You get the StoryWalk.

The StoryWalk is created by signage along a walking path, which each side displays different pages of a book from beginning to end.

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Kim Myers, director of Get Troup Reading, said the StoryWalk was created by a librarian named Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg Hubbard Library StoryWalk.

Troup County’s first StoryWalk is located in the George Harris Complex.

“Our local StoryWalk here in LaGrange was made possible when I became the director of Get Troup Reading. I had been an elementary media specialist for 22 years when I saw this idea for a story walk and thought this would be something great for our community,” Myers said. “When I became director, I knew that was one of the projects I wanted to do with The Thread because it felt like a natural fit and a great place to have a StoryWalk.”

Natalie Hale, executive director of The Thread, said she thinks the StoryWalk is a good addition to the trail.

“For our small town and the amenities we have, I think we’re doing a great job of trying to keep up with the bigger cities. This is a great thing for kids. I would have loved to have had something like this for my kids when they were little,” Hale said.

After getting the green light to begin the project, Myers said she began to apply for grants and received funding from the West Point Fund, the LaGrange Junior Service League and TCSS through its L4GA Grant.

“The city of LaGrange was great and helped support us with the installation. Their contribution to the installation and everything in the park made it possible,” Myers said.

Currently, there is only one StoryWalk in Troup County. Myers said she would love to place more along The Thread and in Hogansville and West Point.

“Now, that we have one in place, I certainly hope this will pique the interest of other organizations wanting to place them,” Myers said. “The one we have at Harris Fields is going to last for many years and be something that will hopefully bring people to that segment of The Thread.”

Myers said the StoryWalk will be another way for families, parents, caregivers and children to enjoy a book together.

“I hope that the StoryWalk will bring people back to the park over and over again because the books will change about every 12 weeks. Hopefully, it will become a regular part of family weekend activities or when they’re at the baseball fields,” Myers said. “The ultimate goal is to improve literacy in Troup County. Every opportunity that we can present to our families to engage with their children through reading and early brain development will result in positive outcomes for their third-grade reading levels.”

Along with stories, Myers said the StoryWalk will display activities and QR codes, to help families not only dig a little deeper into the subject of the books and to practice comprehension skills but also to improve that reading comprehension, fluency and understanding of the text.

“Basics Troup County is an initiative that we sponsor to spread the word about the importance of early brain development in children zero to three. Eighty percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life,” Myers said. “There are five basic principles that are great little reminders that if parents, grandparents and caregivers would implement these five basic principles into their daily routines with their kids, it’s going to increase that brain development. Walkers of the trail will see ideas and suggestions for that along The Thread.”

In celebration of the StoryWalk, Myers said there will be a ribbon cutting and unveiling on April 14 at the George Harris fields. She said the event will start at 3 p.m. and will include free Kona Ice and free books for the first 100 kids.

“It’s going to be our official opening,” Myers said. 

“It’s already open, but we want to celebrate the community involvement and collaboration between all of these different community partners to bring the StoryWalk to Troup County.”