Story provided by Stillwater Public Library
The Stillwater Public Library’s (SPL) second Storywalk® is almost complete. The Storywalk® at Strickland Park is designed with accessibility features so more readers can enjoy it. Community members are invited to celebrate its grand opening with an afternoon of family fun on Saturday, April 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.
The Storywalk® at Strickland Park is funded by a health literacy grant provided by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). ODL and IMLS also funded the library’s first Storywalk®, located in Couch Park.
The goal of the grants is to bring free health-related activities and information to Oklahomans. 2022 marks the sixth year that SPL has received the funding. This year, the focus is back on children and families. Storywalks® combine literacy and fitness by placing permanent display stations along walking trails that are used to display storybook pages.
“Providing opportunities to combine reading with physical activity is a wonderful way to keep kids engaged and having fun while they learn healthy habits,” said Elizabeth Murray, children’s librarian. “We like to change out the books periodically and select titles that incorporate fun movements or highlight eating fruits and veggies.”
Last year, Strickland Park was transformed into an inclusive and accessible play area and community gathering place. Mya’s Promise, a local non-profit that serves young children with special needs and their families, partnered with the City of Stillwater to install the “PlayAbility Project.”
According to Myla Stevens, Mya’s Promise board member, the project’s goal was to ensure that all people – regardless of special need or background – can experience the joy of play. Mya’s Promise is also involved in the Storywalk® at Strickland Park to help make a more inclusive experience.
“We are delighted to work with the library to launch an accessible Storywalk®,” Stevens said. “Encouraging young minds and their families to immerse themselves in the joy of books and inspiring deeper connections within our community from an accessible place fits in perfectly with the ‘PlayAbility Project.'”
Accessibility features incorporated into the Storywalk® at Strickland Park include braille versions of the text at each post and an audio recording of the book that families can listen to as they walk the trail. A larger font size will be used when a selected book’s publisher grants the library permission to make adjustments.
The first book on display will be “Let’s Dance” by Valerie Bolling, and City Manager Norman McNickle will voice the audio recording. City of Stillwater’s Operations and Community Resources staff also played an integral role in the project.
“We’re so lucky to have the City of Stillwater’s support to make the Storywalk® a success,” Murray said. “We truly would not be able to do cool projects like this without dedicated City staff.”
Plans for the grand opening include many engaging activities. Prairie Arts Center is coordinating dance painting, which involves participants using washable paint on their feet to dance on a canvas creating a colorful community mural. There will also be short dance demos and music to fit with the book’s theme. Susan Grammer and the St. Andrews Therapy Dogs will be onsite to provide a calming and relaxing respite from all of the excitement.
The grand opening ceremony is free and open to the public, and registration is not required. After completing a short survey, children will receive a free book courtesy of the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library. TSET Healthy Living Program of Payne County is providing complimentary snacks for the event.
Additional events are planned for the Storywalk® at Strickland Park throughout the spring and summer. To learn more, visit library.stillwater.org/storywalk.php. Get more information about Mya’s Promise and the “PlayAbility Project” at myaspromise.org.
Additional partners for this project not previously mentioned include Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services and Oklahoma ABLE Tech.
This activity is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. The opinions and content of activities and materials do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of ODL or IMLS, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.