StoryWalk Opens at Palm City Elementary

Thanks to a grant from the Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC), Palm City Elementary (PCE) has officially opened its StoryWalk®  installation, located in the Giving Garden at the school.  It is the first StoryWalk® to be erected on a school campus in Martin County. 

StoryWalks® combine reading and learning with outdoor time, says PCE Media Specialist Leigh Anne Pike.  The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg Hubbard Library.  (Storywalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.)  Since its original development as a community project, the StoryWalk® Project has become extremely popular across the United States and around the world. 

"They've taken the country by storm," says Pike.  "I learned about them at the American Library Association's annual conference, and immediately thought about moving the concept from a community to a school setting.  We have over 700 students enrolled at Palm City Elementary.  This is an ideal vehicle to take books beyond the classroom and reach our students in a new and beneficial way."

StoryWalks® are made up of a number of reading stations, each station posting laminated pages from a pre-selected book.  The stations are placed along an outdoor course, allowing children to read the featured book in stages as they walk the path.  The EFMC StoryWalk® at PCE debuted with the book "Snowmen at Night," and the book selection will change on a weekly basis throughout the school year. 

The EFMC StoryWalk's® innovative combination of learning, entertainment and exercise is already a hit at the school.  Teachers are bringing their classes outdoors for lessons involving the Walk, and children of all grades are reading - and re-reading - the featured book as they go along the path. 

Perhaps brothers Cooper and Cody Belowch summed the StoryWalk® experience up the best:  "It's amazing," they said.  "We can read a story and get fresh air at the same time!"

Pike's application for a grant from the Education Foundation of Martin County was awarded because it combined an innovative idea with a well-designed plan to increase student engagement and interest in reading, according to Lisa Rhodes, the Foundation's Executive Director. 

Contributing time and construction skills to the EFMC StoryWalk® Project was a volunteer installation team:  Jon Ryan, parent of a PCE student; Carlos Uquillas, PCE's Plant Operator; and Deputy Sheriff Alan Shevak, DARE Officer at Jensen Beach High School. 

Plans are underway to take the StoryWalk® concept to the Jensen Beach High School, where it will be introduced to students at higher grade levels.  The Jensen Beach installation is projected to be complete by the end of the current school year. 

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