Keeping children’s minds and bodies active this summer just got easier in Neepawa, thanks to a brand-new program that was recently unveiled at the town’s soccer field.
A new storybook trail, modeled after the StoryWalk Let’s Move in Libraries from the United States, has been installed at the Flats in Neepawa, 74 kilometres northeast of Brandon. It features a series of 18 outdoor signs that were installed by the Neepawa Men’s Shed group. The Neepawa Public Library provides books that are separated into different pages and displayed behind plexiglass at each sign along the trail.
Heidi Nugent, recreation director with the Town of Neepawa, said the trail combines physical activity with literacy in a way that is sure to appeal to children and families.
“People are out and looking for something to do and enjoying the weather,” Nugent said. “On the bottom of the podiums there’s a little banner that says ‘hop like a bunny to the next one’ — all of these little activities to do in the meantime.”
The new book that Nugent recently installed is called “I Don’t Want to Wash My Hands!” by Tony Ross. She said it’s a fun story about a little princess who learns the importance of handwashing — something that is very important for children to learn.
Nugent will update the storybook trail with new books donated by the local library every two weeks until the end of October. She hopes that even when the weather turns cooler, families will still come to the Flats for exercise and to read a good book.
“Once the cold weather comes along, I hope that people will still make their way down there on the nicer days to enjoy something different and something new,” Nugent said.
Debbie Unger, branch supervisor at the Neepawa Public Library, said the response to the trail on social media has been very positive.
“The Western Manitoba Regional Library has been doing these temporary story walks for the last couple of years with the summer reading club,” Unger explained, noting that the one at the walking trail in Neepawa is permanent. “It’s something that we’re really happy to be a part of.”
Unger, who just installed a temporary story walk at the Margaret Lawrence Home, said it’s a great way for families to get into reading and movement together.
“The whole idea is to encourage family literacy and movement and being outdoors, and incorporating reading into your family walk time.”
Funding for the project was awarded to the town through a grant of $1,300 from the Assiniboine North Parent Child Coalition.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun