LUMBERTON — A local company has created an alternative path to literacy with the installation of Robson County’s first StoryWalk at Luther Britt Park.
Located at the Crystal Road entrance to the park in West Lumberton is StoryWalk Robeson, a literacy project sponsored by the Lambda Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society in partnership with the City of Lumberton Recreation Department. Lambda Chapter is a society of women educators from the counties of Robeson and Scotland.
“We just thought it was a beautiful park and a beautiful setting for StoryWalk,” said the project coordinator for the company’s StoryWalk committee. “I think it will add to the community.”
The concept places individual pages from a selected children’s book on permanent signs installed along a pathway in Luther Britt Park. As families read and walk, each page of the book will feature activities and questions that will help promote reading comprehension.
“Reading is a huge issue in our county, so that’s one of the reasons I did this. Reading comprehension is a big deal,” Wright said.
John Jacobs, Superintendent of Luther Britt Park, helped with StoryWalk logistics. A total of 20 panels have been installed throughout the park about 20 feet apart, and each panel contains two pages, The Robesonian told. The entire book spans a quarter of a mile.
The first book presented is “Giraffes Can’t Dance”, by Giles Andreae. The book tells the story of Gérald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. Despite twisted knees and thin legs, Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he receives encouraging words from an unlikely friend. It is planned to exhibit it until July.
To celebrate the installation of StoryWalk, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society held a community launch celebration in the park, which included a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the StoryWalk sign. Over 100 people attended the event where, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, along with Robeson Reading Council donated free books for the event, and Eric Chavis, the Precinct 7 Lumberton Council Representative , presented a check for $1,000 to help fund the continuation of the StoryWalk.
“It was a hit. We had families coming out and we had kids coming out and parents going through StoryWalk,” Wright said. “Even though people are there for the kickoff , StoryWalk will be there for people to enjoy with their kids.”
Literacy continued to be a growing concern for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society-Lambda chapter, so the society implemented several initiatives to address the issue, such as placing books in laundromats. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, the company reassessed what it was doing, did some research, and decided to implement Robeson County’s first StoryWalk at Luther Britt Park in West Lumberton.
Wright said she hopes the StoryWalk will not only help with literacy issues, but also be a way for families to spend time with each other.
“Just seeing families get together and reading together and spending time together as well as exercising and hanging out, I think that’s another part,” Wright said. “Most people know the importance of reading, but parents need to take an active role in helping their children become better readers. It’s really important.
The books will be changed throughout the year and will be aimed at children from 5 to 8 years old. The books “If You Plant A Seed” by Kedir Nelson and “Fry Bread” by Kevin Noble Maillard should be presented this year.
“It’s a permanent exhibit,” Wright said. “We will exchange the books four times a year.”
Funds for this project were provided by the Kappa Gamma International Educators Foundation, Lumber River United Way, Titan Flow and individual donors. On the last StoryWalk sign is a QR code for people who want to donate and help fund more books.
StoryWalk was founded in Montpelier, Vermont by Anne Ferguson in 2007. The StoryWalk name is trademarked and offers installations across the country.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.