Reading children’s books and walking for exercise will combine this year in El Dorado to create a series of engaging events that are free to the community.
Three local organizations worked together to create the reading and walking events called the Storybook Trail. The El Dorado YMCA, the YMCA’s Togetherhood organization and El Dorado Parks and Recreation will kick off the events Thursday, which is National Take a Walk in the Park Day, at North Main Park.
Suzie Locke, El Dorado YMCA board chair, came up with the idea for Storybook Trail after she heard about other Kansas communities doing similar projects. The concept is a children’s book will be blown up and mounted successively around a local park. As participants read the book, they will walk through the park.
“Our goal is to provide a free opportunity for kids to get out and get active,” Locke said. “It’s a family activity that encourages literacy and wellness.”
A Greater Wichita YMCA grant of $1,500 made the project possible, and it was taken on by El Dorado Togetherhood. Togetherhood, an organization sponsored by YMCA of the USA, officially launched in 2016. The El Dorado YMCA is one of 20 YMCAs that was chosen to be a pilot Togetherhood program.
“Togetherhood takes the Y’s mission outside the walls of the YMCA and into the community,” Locke said.
Togetherhood is a group of community volunteers who plan four community projects within different segments of the community. The group’s first project of 2017 was recruiting senior citizens to serve as grandparents in the elementary school for students who did not have a grandparent who was able to attend.
The Storybook Trail is the group’s second project of the year, and a different book will be featured at each of the trail’s locations. Attendees are encouraged to attend as many of the trail’s dates as they would like.
This spring, creative writing students from El Dorado High School and second-grade students from Grandview Elementary are collaborating to write and illustrate children’s books. Each of the books created will be blown up to be used at future Storybook Trail events. One of the books will be chosen to be featured at El Dorado’s Fall Festival Sept. 23, Locke said.
The Storybook Trail is being piloted this week and next at each of the elementary schools and the first weekend of YMCA spring soccer. Locke said the group’s hope is the activity can be continued in the community, perhaps at some of the elementary schools.
Thursday's event, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at North Main Park, will feature Butler athletes, giveaways, prize drawings and disc golf.
See the schedule below to see when your family can visit El Dorado’s Storybook Trail this year:
April 1, North Main Park
May 6, Gordy Park
June 3, Library Park
July 1 and 4, East Park
August 5, Graham Park
September 1 and 23, El Dorado YMCA
October 7, Summit Park