Mihaela Floarea enjoys this week’s Story Walk. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

Stories decorate city pathways for new reading initiative

The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre began the initiative in support of the local early years community

Encouraging kids to read while enjoying the great outdoors, the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre (FWRC) set up a Summer Stories Around Town initiative in partnership with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL).

Running from July 15 until September 2, pages from various children’s books will be posted along changing pathways throughout Fernie and Sparwood. Stories are placed each Wednesday, and remain up for a week. Encouraging inclusion and participation from the Elk Valley’s French community, the books are also translated into French by Maylis Destremau from L’association Francophone des Rocheuses du Sud (AFRoS) Fernie.

Adorning the yard in front of Fernie city hall this week was the colourful story, All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman. In Sparwood, Silly Sally by Audrey Wood animated Titan Park. Featured in previous weeks was The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, with past locations including The Arts Station, and the Sparwood Splash Park.

Coinciding with the stories are Take and Make packages, containing a craft or activity relating to each story. The packages offer families activities they can do at home, as gathering in large groups is still restricted. Each package includes a granola bar for the children, a tea bag for adults, and an information sheet to give parents exciting activity ideas. In previous weeks, the packages have included supplies to create a variety of signs, as well as chalk to draw self portraits on driveways. Packages are available for collection on Wednesday afternoons, either at the car park next to Fernie’s CBAL office or at the Sparwood Public Library.

Participants in Summer Stories Around Town are eligible to win weekly prizes by posting a photo at the Story Walk or of their Take and Make creation via Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtags #SummerStoriesAroundTown or #StoryWalkElkValley.

“The CBAL team went to a Decoda conference in Vancouver earlier this year, before COVID-19, and there was a session on the Story Walk project,” said Andy Coe, facilitator for FWRC. “When we realized we wouldn’t be able to run our regular summer program, Mountain Kids in the Park, the CBAL staff proposed a Story Walk and I suggested Take and Make activity packages for families to have something to take and do at home. Then we would be able to provide the proper safe distancing needed while still providing support.”

Announcements with new locations and stories can be found on the event’s Facebook page, as well as via posters put up throughout Fernie and Sparwood.

Those participating in the Story Walks are asked to safely distance at each location, staying on designated paths and refraining from touching the posts. Coe also reminds the public that all three organizations involved in the initiative are still open and available to offer safe support for those in need.

To contact AFRoS, email them at francofernie@gmail.com. CBAL can be reached at elkvalleycoordinator@cbal.org, and the FWRC via fwrc@shaw.ca.


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The Take and Make packages are free for all participants. Photo Submitted

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