The Granville Athletic Park (GAP) has been added to a growing list of recreational areas that now feature the StoryWalk® Project, a family-friendly activity that combines outdoor exercise with early literacy. Implemented by the Granville County Library System and strongly supported by the Granville County Board of Commissioners, StoryWalk® offers an innovative way to get families out walking together while enjoying the pages of colorfully illustrated children’s books.
The project was created in 2007 by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, a former chronic disease prevention specialist, who had an idea to create “something different, fun and interesting” to bring families together. Through a collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library, StoryWalk® was developed, introducing children to reading while encouraging outdoor activity.
“I knew I wanted to create something where the parents had to be as active as the children,” Ferguson has said about her idea. “Active parents have active children, and physical activity is a key component to chronic disease prevention.”
Since being introduced, the StoryWalk® Project has spread to all 50 states and has been added to parks in several North Carolina counties. County Commissioner Tim Karan (District 6) was instrumental in soliciting support for the project and in bringing it to Granville County.
“Granville County Government continues to provide wraparound services to its residents,” Commissioner Karan remarked. “Recreation and literacy are important to the lives of young families. Every opportunity we have to get a book in front of a child, especially in a setting where physical activity can be included, is a win-win, and what better place to introduce StoryWalk® than in the County’s largest recreational space.”
Pages included on each colorfully illustrated storyboard take children along an educational path through the Granville Athletic Park, with the first page located at the new playground (near the tennis courts) in the park’s Phase III expansion. The book currently featured on the StoryWalk® is “One Duck Stuck,” a rhythmic counting tale. Amy Carlson, Children’s Librarian for the Richard H. Thornton Library, notes that stories will rotate several times during the year.
The Granville Athletic Park now totals 80 acres and is located at 4615 Belltown Road in Oxford. To learn more about the GAP, please visit the GAP home page. To learn more about the StoryWalk® Project, please visit www.kellogghubbard.org.