StoryWalk® at Gardiner Regional Middle School opened Nov. 4 on the lower trail behind the sports fields. Submitted photo

GARDINER — Community members of all ages gathered on Friday, Nov. 4, to celebrate the grand opening of the Gardiner Regional Middle School StoryWalk Trail on the lower trail behind the sports fields.

The first book chosen to display is “The Wildlife Tree” by local author Peter Emery and illustrator Deborah Emery. All who attended saw an educational presentation by the authors about the animals who inhabited a wildlife tree and walked the trail to read the book, according to a news release from Nan Bell, Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 coordinator at Healthy Communities of the Capital Area.

StoryWalk is an innovative and delightful way for children and adults to experience reading and the outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to wooden pedestals, which are installed along the outdoor path. As walkers stroll down the trail, they are directed to the next page in the story.

In April, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area received a grant from Community Health Options to promote physical activity outdoors. A member of the Gardiner Area Thrives Coalition and Gardiner Regional Middle School principal Dr. Sara Sims, seized the opportunity when the coalition offered $500 to start a StoryWalk project on the trail behind the middle school.

The school’s Storywalk is the result of contributions and collaborations from all over the Maine School Administrative District 11 community. The coalition worked with Sims to form a workgroup of community members and school staff, and tapped Ruben Deprey, a recently retired Gardiner resident, to design and build 21 podiums to hold storybook pages. Gardiner Public Library, Gardiner Rotary, and Kiwanis Club donated the additional funds needed to purchase materials. Jake Hubert and The Fire Wing Patrol of Boy Scout Troop 672 helped finish and mount the podiums, while Gary Ladner and Steve Welton donated gravel and equipment for Favreau Lawn Care, LLC, to install the posts.

“The StoryWalk activity is an excellent way for adults and children to get outside, be physically active, and enjoy reading,” said Bell. “The StoryWalk® is free and a fun family activity!”

Community members are rallying to donate more books, to be housed at Gardiner Public Library, to cycle through and keep the Storywalk exciting to visit.

For more information, contact Bell at [email protected] or 207-588-5341.

 

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