Stroll through the new StoryWalk at The Village Green

The Village Green is now the home of a recently installed StoryWalk, which entails pages of children’s books displayed on standards throughout the park. There are 18 standards installed and currently on display are “Coming Soon” pages that tell the story of the collaboration between four organizations and a community to make the StoryWalk a reality.

Pictured below is a quick glance at the new StoryWalk at The Village Green in Cashiers

The StoryWalk has been a passion project for years and is made possible through a partnership between The Village Green, The Albert-Carlton Cashiers Community Library, Literacy Council of Cashiers, and Vision Cashiers. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on April 2, coinciding with International Children’s Book Day.

The StoryWalk begins at the Village Play and takes you on a stroll through the picnic area, past the Pavilion, skirting the Wetlands, through the Village Commons, and ending near the trailhead at the Post Office.

Standards have been installed throughout The Village Green to display the pages of children’s books for the new StoryWalk.

“It’s so awesome,” said Cashiers Librarian Serenity Richards. “Location, location, location, as they say. Having the StoryWalk right in the center of the village makes it easily accessible to everyone. With the playground, we know our audience of families and children are there. It’s an absolutely beautiful setting in our natural world to get sun and fresh air and exercise. And the path leads right to the Library so people can further their exploration with more books and activities. It’s perfect!”

Project organizers felt The Village Green’s natural environment was the perfect location for the new StoryWalk.

The Village Green Executive Director Ann Self approached Richards with the idea almost 4 years ago and Richards was immediately on board. Self said she is always looking for interesting things for visitors to do at the park and thought the library was a logical place to look for support on this project.

“The StoryWalk enhances the use of the park for children and their families,” said Self. “It fosters a love of reading outdoors and stimulates their minds. The takeaway for a child is something fun to do in addition to the playground and it’s a delight for them to be swept away in a story while they’re outside.”

The Coming Soon pages on display now were created by Artist and Designer Kat Ford, who said designing the pages was an opportunity to tell the community about the incredible partnership that occurred between four partnering organizations, donors, and sponsors to create the StoryWalk in a visually appealing, child-friendly aesthetic.

One of the Coming Soon pages on display now at The Village Green designed by Kat Ford who was going for a fairy-tale look.

“The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has always felt like a fairytale setting for me, something straight out of a children’s book,” said Ford. “I used the ‘Once upon a time’ heading on each illustration, with a background that resembles an antiqued book page. There is a magical fairytale-like feel with the flora and fauna illustrations, which I believe conveys the mystique of a children’s book.”

The StoryWalk runs along the Cashiers Greenway Ramble and Ford featured animals used in the Ramble’s logo in the artwork of her pages.

The Cashiers Greenway Ramble logo includes images of a bird, deer, fish, and salamander and are used in the “Coming Soon,” pages on display in StoryWalk at The Village Green.

“For children, I hope they walk away excited for future StoryWalk books, with an understanding that their community cares about them,” said Ford. “I hope that there is a spark for literacy, writing, and the arts in young hearts and minds. For adults, I hope they walk away inspired that our community values literacy, language, the arts, local writers, and artists. I hope that the synergy that formed between partnering organizations, donors, and sponsors inspires volunteerism. I hope that knowing that local writers and authors are part of this project encourages people to take up their pen and brush and find ways to articulate stories waiting to be told.”

Richards said the support from the community throughout the process to implement the StoryWalk has been incredible.

“So many volunteers have been willing to spread the word, add yet another Zoom meeting to their schedules, their time, labor, ideas and talents, money; I have been astounded by the outpouring of support for this project,” said Richards. “Every single person we talk to gets so excited by the idea of the StoryWalk. The community has really rallied behind this idea in the past year.”

The StoryWalk begins at the playground and winds its way to the trailhead by the Post Office.

She added that it’s not only volunteers offering support, but local businesses have also gotten involved.

“Employers have given flexibility for people to be able to attend meetings and work on the StoryWalk,” said Richards. “Local businesses have worked with us on capital costs. Individuals hear about the project and want to donate to make sure the StoryWalk continues on for many years.”

Self said they hope to install the first children’s book in June, which will be Cashiers; Come Play with Me, written by Self and illustrated by Ford. All books used in the StoryWalk will also include Spanish translations.

Richards said books chosen for the StoryWalk are written at a fourth-grade reading level or lower and ideally include interesting activities to add to the experience.

The playground at The Village Green is where visitors can begin the StoryWalk.

“We want to be able to incorporate a wide variety of activities for each story so that we get a mix of physical activity, STEAM creativity, and reading and literacy skill building as part of the StoryWalk experience,” she said. “Special attention is given to books by local authors or stories that are local. As the StoryWalk collection grows, we plan to be able to change out books at least quarterly. We want to keep the experience fresh and something to keep coming back for.”

To read more about the national StoryWalk program click HERE.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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