During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of us found ourselves stuck inside and wondering how to spend our time. Many adults worked from home and students attended class from home, which made for agonizing times for many parents. Like many organizations across the country, Marion County Library System used its creativity to help families escape hard times into the great outdoors and read a story at the same time.
Marion County Library Director Holly Cockfield heard of the international StoryWalk® Project, an outdoor reading experience that features a story along a walking trail. She thought this would be a great addition to the Marion Hike and Bike Trail, so she and her team set out to make it happen. They decided to name it Storyscape, a play on the words “story” and “escape.”
The Storyscape project features 20 deconstructed pages of a children’s book that families can read along their walk or bike. Cockfield explains, “As families start their escape on the one-mile trail, they can stop at 20 kiosks to read the first half of a book, and on their way back, they can read the second half of the book. There are enough kiosks to feature a 40-page book.”
The library eventually had to remove the kiosks because weather and other natural elements made the kiosks unstable. “The signs were just hanging out in our basement for a while, which was disappointing. There was a lot of interest in Storyscape, and we didn’t have the funds to invest in a more permanent installation method.”
Through a community partner, Cockfield heard about Wholespire’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Mini-Grant. She applied for only $1,000 to fund supplies and the installation of a sturdier base for the kiosks.
“We felt like this would be a great investment in a rural community that would benefit all members of the community. It connects active living with literacy, which is a good motivator to use the hike and bike trail,” said Kelsey Sanders, MPH, CHES, community relations manager at Wholespire.
Cockfield said, “I really thought it would be a wonderful idea and it would be impossible to raise funds for. Wholespire changed that. We’re very thankful for your help.”
The Marion County Library System will change the stories periodically to give families a new experience. They’ve received positive feedback through a QR code posted on the last page of the Storyscape.
If you live in or visit Marion, check out the Storyscape located on the Marion Hike and Bike Trail in downtown Marion, South Carolina, and read a book. It’s not just for kids. Adults can enjoy it too!