Families are discovering something new on a segment of the River Ridge Trail.
The city’s first StoryWalk went up April 13 on the south loop of the trail that runs through Swan Park. A new children’s story is set to take its place on April 30.
“I just think what a great way for two city departments to work together,” said Sue Abrahamson, the children’s librarian at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
She was referring to the partnership between the library and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to create StoryWalk.
Abrahamson learned about the idea in February while attending a conference. One participant mentioned that she wanted to create a StoryWalk in her community but did not know how to do it.
“Immediately, I thought about the trails and how we’re always talking about ways to get kids outside,” Abrahamson said.
Once she was back in Waupaca, Abrahamson headed to the Waupaca Recreation Center, where she talked to Recreation Programmer Aaron Jenson and Parks Superintendent Russ Montgomery about the idea.
Soon, Josh Peterson, who works in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, visited Abrahamson at the library.
“We had leftover Plexiglas here at the library,” she said, “so Josh comes over and says, ‘How many can I take?'”
Jenson said creating signs for the StoryWalk project was simple and inexpensive.
The StoryWalk project was created and developed in Vermont by Anne Ferguson, in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.
When Abrahamson and Jenson began working on StoryWalk in Waupaca, they chose Swan Park.
“Our thought,” he said, “was to get it in a heavily trafficked area this year.”
Families will find the StoryWalk by going onto the trail between Fields 3 and 4. After walking the trail a short time, they will finding the beginning of the story on a post at the beginning of a loop of the trail.
The current story is Happy Go Ducky by Jackie Urbanovic, and next week, Sheep Takes A Hike will go up on the trail.
The books are aimed toward children who are in preschool through second grade.
Ellen Davis, who owns Dragonwings in downtown Waupaca, is helping Abrahamson select books for the project.
As families walk on this loop of the trail, they stop to read a page with their children.
“It’s a good thing for the families,” Jenson said. “I think it’ll help promote the trails in areas that aren’t used once it gains popularity.”
Plans calls for segments of the trail in other areas, including behind Sunny Day Daycare, to be the site of StoryWalk next year.
Carol Elvery, who chairs the River Ridge Trail Committee, said, “It will get kids out to some of the very special, natural places in Waupaca.”
Jenson said that by the time families finishtheir StoryWalk, they will probably have walked half a mile.
Abrahamson said new books will go up every two to three weeks, through September.
“Next year, there will also be one StoryWalk, but we will move it to different locations,” Abrahamson said. “Our goal is to promote the trail and get more families on the trail and to connect the two departments in the experience.”