A new activity for families is coming to St. Joseph County thanks to a partnership between the St. Joseph County Public Library and the St. Joseph County Parks. A StoryWalk trail, featuring the book The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward, opens on Sunday, July 15, at St. Patrick’s County Park.
Pages from The Busy Tree will be displayed along the trail so that families can read the story while walking through the park. Through beautiful illustrations, the book describes all the creatures that live in a single tree, from roots to branches, and introduces children to a variety of wildlife. Activities and prompts accompany the book, promoting discussion about the plants and animals that families might see along the trail.
The StoryWalk begins near the Berta Shelter across from the Red Barn Playground and runs through the pines that spell St. Patrick’s. It will be available during park open hours throughout the summer. St. Patrick’s County Park is located on Laurel Road north of South Bend. Entrance to the park is free Mondays through Thursdays. A vehicle entrance fee is charged on Fridays through Sundays, and holidays. Library patrons can check out a one-day Discovery Pass at the Main Library for complementary admission to the park.
This project motivates the whole family to get involved in reading and bing outdoors. The goal is to combine physical and mental activity and is a natural partnership for the Library and the Parks. SJCPL first began creating StoryWalks inside the library in 2016. It was also in this year that the Library celebrated the Indiana Bicentennial by holding a one day StoryWalk event at Bendix Woods County Park.
According to Youth Services Library Assistant Kim Androlowicz, “StoryWalks are really intended to be outside. They not only promote physical activity, but also early literacy and family time together. We are excited to be installing StoryWalks in St. Joseph County Parks where we can display multiple books throughout the year in semi-permanent locations.”
Evie Kirkwood, director of the St. Joseph County Parks agrees: “Parents and grandparents are often looking for activities to do with young children, but can’t juggle an organized program at the park or library. Outdoor experiences like this develop motor skills, build self-esteem, and foster an appreciation of nature, but more importantly are a fun way to spend time together!”
The StoryWalk at St. Patrick’s County Park is just the beginning. The partners are already making plans to bring a StoryWalk trail to Bendix Woods County Park in the fall.
This project is sponsored by a NIPSCO Gives Back Environmental Action Grant and a donation from Del Meyer of Weichert, Realtors. It was made possible through an additional donation by Emilie Utigard and Mark Golitko in memory of Finn Golitko.
The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson. StoryWalks have been installed in 50 states and 12 countries across the world.