Home & Family
LUVERNE, Ala. — Families visiting the E.L Turner Park Walking Trail in Luverne can now enjoy reading a story together as they take a walk thanks to a great community partnership.
Kristen Sanders, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System SNAP-Ed educator in Crenshaw and Pike counties, leveraged several community partnerships to bring together reading and physical activity in the park.
Families who walk the half-mile trail at Turner Park can now enjoy a book in the process. On the trail, they will find a page of a story every 66 feet. Additionally, there are healthy message signs that encourage healthy eating, drinking water and ways to increase physical activity. The books chosen for the book walk will be changed on a regular basis. They will encourage healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, the benefits of gardening and various way to keep bodies healthy.
The idea of the book walk in Luverne flourished after a pop-up challenge during Move Alabama this past spring. Move Alabama is a community-driven initiative aimed at inspiring Alabamians to exercise alongside their friends and family in their hometown. A previous Alabama Extension project funded fitness signs around the trail through the ALProHealth grant. During the challenge, Sanders added healthy message signs with a QR code linking back to the Move Alabama Facebook page.
Drawing from the interest in the Move Alabama challenge, Sanders partnered with the Luverne Public Library to set up a chalk walk, which had students follow chalk drawings to different pages of a book and complete a physical activity challenge at each station.
Wanting to build on the work at the library and Move Alabama, Sanders worked with Luverne Public Library Director Kathryn Tomlin to learn how to make the story walk bigger. Sanders and Tomlin sought information from Ann Ferguson, the founder of StoryWalk’s, in Montpelier, Vermont to learn best practices. Additionally, Sanders received support from the City of Luverne and Friends of the Luverne Public Library.
“It has been a wonderful relationship between the library and Alabama Extension,” Tomlin said. “It has been a blessing and a win-win for both organizations. Kristen is truly a gem for Extension.”
Tomlin said Friends of the Library agreed to purchase the metal signs, which was the biggest expense. Afterward, the city’s streets and sanitation crew installed the signs.
Sanders said the story walk gives children who may not like to sit still in a classroom setting the opportunity to read while moving their bodies.
“If you are up and moving, it’s more fun anyway,” Sanders said. “If you’re walking or running while reading, it’s the best of both worlds. That makes the story more fun and engaging.”
Sanders said students will see characters in books making good food choices, exercising, drinking water and gardening.
“We hope kids will retain that information without realizing it because they’ll be having fun,” Sanders said.
Tomlin said she believes the trail will be used and will have a positive impact on the community.
“We are hopeful that a lot of families will use the trail by exercising and learning,” Tomlin said. “With any luck, it will get kids off iPads, phones and away from televisions and get them outside with families and be active.”