NEWBURYPORT — A StoryWalk instituted in Moseley Woods this summer aims to get children and their families outdoors for exercise and reading.
Family Connections of Rowley, Newbury, Salisbury and Newburyport is a state Coordinated Family & Community Engagement program that serves children up to 8 years old and their parents or guardians.
The Triton Regional School District receives a grant each year through the state Department of Early Education and Care to provide child development services and resources to those communities.
The StoryWalk is just one example of this program’s offerings. The goal is to help parents and guardians in their role as the children’s first teacher, program coordinator Heather Jones said.
There are more than 90 of these programs serving 350 communities across Massachusetts, according to the state website.
Family Connections of Rowley, Newbury, Salisbury and Newburyport offers parent education and support on various topics, including literacy and social emotional development.
The goal is to prepare children and their parents before they begin learning in a formal setting, Jones explained.
Family Connections also provides free playgroups at each of Triton’s elementary schools, as well as at Newburyport Youth Services.
“Pretty much any day of the week, if someone wanted to access a playgroup, they could access one,” Jones said. “Whether it be in Salisbury, Rowley, Newbury or Newburyport, it’s just a way to engage with other children and engage with other parents.”
StoryWalk is a registered trademark developed by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, in collaboration with Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
“The whole idea was wanting to get children and their families outside in nature while also supporting literacy,” Jones said.
Family Connections partnered with the city’s Parks Department to bring a StoryWalk to Moseley Woods this year.
The first installment this summer was “A House for Hermit Crab” by Eric Carle. The goal is to switch out the story each season, or four times a year. “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson is the latest installment.
Jones worked closely with Newbury Town Library, which has its own StoryWalk at 0 Lunt St. in Byfield, to design this one at Moseley Woods.
Families can expect to walk just over a mile to read the whole story. There are 16 stations created by Port Signworks.
At the end of the StoryWalk, there is a QR code people can scan to enter drawings to win a free copy of the book and other prizes. There is also a place to suggest stories for future installments.
StoryWalks can be found in 50 states and 13 countries. Jones first saw one while cross-country skiing in New Hampshire with her children.
“It really kept them engaged the whole time,” she said. “They were excited to see where the next one was going to come up.”
To learn more, visit https://familyconnectionscfce.weebly.com.
Staff reporter Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.