Metroparks Meetup: Wildwood “StoryWalk” provides education and exercise

Waterproof panels lining the trail highlight children’s books about nature.
The Metroparks are teaming up with your local library to keep kids learning about the natural world, one page at a time.
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s been a rainy day at Wildwood Metropark, though the park system is teaming up with your local library to keep kids learning about the natural world -- rain or shine, one page at a time.

“Our youth services coordinator, Nancy Eames, wanted to make sure with COVID-19 that we gave families the chance to experience the outdoors while sharing vocabulary and literacy together,” says Lauren Boeke, early literacy librarian with Toledo Lucas County Public Library. They’ve partnered with the Metroparks to create “StoryWalks”, with laminated pages from children’s books lining the trail.

“Children can come out on a mile-long walk through Wildwood Metropark, and enjoy ‘Some Bugs’ right now -- a great book this time of year when you’ll see some bugs out and about,” says Director of Programming/Education Shannon Hughes. “If you come at different times, you are going to be able to see other books. They are weather-resistant, and they’re holding up wonderfully.”

It’s part of a national program to unite parks and publishers, and feature local libraries. “By highlighting one page at a time, we were able to share more vocabulary, so we reached out to publishers willing to work with us,” Boeke explains. “The publishers really took to our idea, and let us recreate these books into the wonderful panels that people can now see in 19 library locations and the Metroparks.”

The waterproof panels at Wildwood were just installed this week, and plans for expansion are already in the works. Hughes says they “want to give folks who live closer to Pearson and Oak Openings the opportunity... so we are looking to expand this to two other parks.”

This partnership is a two-way street, with Metroparks staff joining in for the library’s early literacy program and mobile book services. “We want to talk with families from birth on up,” says Boeke. “We want them speaking, reading and talking with their little ones the minute they’re born, so they can be ready for kindergarten. When we have a StoryWalk, when we go from page to page, we can have great conversations.”

Click here for TLCPL’s rotating list of StoryWalk works through August.

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