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Trail Tales debuts at Memorial Park

Trail Tales at Henry County Memorial Park officially opened Saturday. Pictured at the first of 17 reading stations, from left, are: Nan Polk, HOPE Initiative; Deborah Polston, Henry County Early Learning Coalition co-coordinator; Liane Nickey, HC Early Leaning Coalition coordinator; Lynn Thomas, New Castle-Henry County Children’s librarian; Cathy Hamilton, HOPE Initiative and Laurie Davis, Memorial Park superintendent.

By ELDON PITTS - For The Courier-Times

A new feature officially opened Saturday at Henry County Memorial Park. It’s called Trail Tales and it gives children a chance to read and learn as they walk along a short trail to the playground in the north part of the park.

Trail Tales is a collaborative effort between the New Castle-Henry County Public Library, Friends of the Library, Henry County Early Learning Coalition, HOPE Initiative and the Henry County Parks Department.

Children’s Librarian Lynn Thomas said Trail Tales includes 17 stations a short distance apart. At each one there are pages of a book mounted on a wooden stand. The first station is just north of where the old concession stand was located many years ago – the parking lot north of Shively Lake.

“The first 16 (stations) contain two pages of the book so they can read as the go,” Thomas said. “At the bottom there is either a question or an activity for children to do that have to do with the two pages they just read.”

The reading trail leads to the playground.

At the final station, Thomas said, “I give different kinds of walks you can take with your children, books about walks and tell who contributed to Trail Tales.”

Thomas said she learned about two librarians in Vermont who started a “story walk.”

“I’ve known about this for a while,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s a great way to get families reading and outside together.”

Cathy Hamilton, HOPE Initiative, said Friends of the Library furnished the funding for the books and building materials. She said a carpenter, who wants to remain anonymous, built and installed the stands. Other volunteers also helped with the project.

“We had a lot of people who think this is a great idea,” said Hamilton. “It’s education, literacy and the outdoors all in one project.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Memorial Park Superintendent Laurie Davis. “It will bring a lot of little kids out here. It gives the little kids something to do besides just play or feed the ducks. It’s another way to bring them into the park and into nature and reading.”

Thomas said the Trail Tale stories will change about four times a year, or more, if possible.

The HC Early Leaning Coalition donated umbrella strollers to give away to families who attended the event. Aldi donated gift cards. Books also were given away.