Participants in a recent Family Learning Tour stop to read the pages of a story book. West Shore residents will get another chance to take part in this popular StoryWalk program this summer

Participants in a recent Family Learning Tour stop to read the pages of a story book. West Shore residents will get another chance to take part in this popular StoryWalk program this summer

Story time comes with a twist on the West Shore

StoryWalks program combines literacy and healthy activities for
West Shore residents

This summer, story time will take on a whole new meaning.

Starting on July 6 and running until Aug. 24, every Wednesday night residents are encouraged to get off their couches and take part in the StoryWalk program.

“It’s a great family event and a great way to see your neighbourhood,” said Bobbi Neal, West Shore Parks and Recreation’s community development co-ordinator.

Part of the Capital Regional District’s new active transportation and healthy communities program – it’s hosted by West Shore Parks and Recreation – this program is meant to help residents find unique ways to integrate healthy activities into their everyday lives.

Neal said West Shore Parks and Rec. was approached by the CRD after holding an active transportation symposium in February of last year. “The CRD was a part of that … It was sort of a natural fit when they started looking at their own (programs).”

Originally developed in the United States, the StoryWalk program aims to combine literacy, immersion in nature and active travel while bringing the pages of stories to life.

“It’s a drop-in, self-guided activity,” Neal noted. The stories, usually picture books, are broken down and pages on signboards are scattered across the route.

“Every 30 metres or so you find the next page of the book.” Walks usually last about 40 minutes, depending on the speed of participants and whether they are walking, running or rolling between pages.

“Our books this year have a nature-based focus,” she said. “We try and choose our books to be appealing to all ages, so it’s for everyone.”

West Shore Parks and Recreation has run different versions of this program in the past in connection with literacy programs and events.

Neal said during their last session they had just over 30 people attend in the beginning and by the end more than 80 were taking part.

“We started then as a pilot to celebrate the user-friendly trails.” Now, she said, they’re expanding past West Shore Parks and Recreation’s trails to include and highlight some other trails in the region.

On July 6, pages will be scattered on the Garry Oak Loop beside the Juan de Fuca rec centre. Later that month, you’ll be able to find pages at Langford’s Glen Lake Park, View Royal’s Portage Park and Highlands’ Munn Road Trail.

In August, stories will come to life at the Westmont Montessori School’s teaching shelter in Metchosin, at Colwood Creek Park, Elsie King Trail in View Royal then wind up back at West Shore Parks and Recreation.

Look for a special StoryWalk on Saturday, July 9, at the Eats and Beats festival in Colwood. Check out westshorerecreation.ca for more details closer to the first date.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com