SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — For those looking for a fun family activity, especially for young children, while also looking to spend some time exploring the great outdoors, the South Kingstown Land Trust has launched its first StoryWalk, featuring pages from the book “One Snowy Night” by Nick Butterworth spread out along the 0.8 mile long trail in the Thewlis Woods, which runs through this Sunday.
The idea came from the SKLT’s Board of Directors, who were looking for a new way to engage the community in a COVID-safe way, as many of their events over the past year were canceled.
“A number of members of our board committee on development and outreach were brainstorming how to interact with the community and provide extra amenities for the community that are COVID safe and family friendly and the idea of StoryWalk (came up),” SKLT Executive Director Julia Landstreet said, adding she was familiar with the concept from a previous organization she worked for.
The organization had previously been in talks with the Peace Dale branch of the South Kingstown Public Library to do a StoryWalk at the Biscuit City Trail as part of Youth Fishing Day, but the event ended up being canceled. Still, the idea strongly appealed to the board.
We decided it would be really fun to do it on our own and then put together the infrastructure so that we could do it again, and the library ones that don’t leave them out for a period of time, they put them up and take them down and we wanted one that we could have more permanently installed,” Landstreet said.
When it came to choosing the story, Landstreet said for the board’s chairwoman, Martha Day, it was a no-brainer.
“(“One Snowy Night”) is a beloved book for (Day) that she had read to her children and always loved,” Landstreet said. “Once they had the idea, she knew exactly which book she wanted to do and was ready.”
The story, first published in 1989, tells the tale of Percy the Park Ranger, who must help his animal friends warm and cozy during a cold and snowy night.
“Butterworth is a lovely author that writes very charming children’s books that most people may not have read and so it was fun to showcase that,” Landstreet said.
Pages of the book were laminated and placed onto signs around the 0.8 mile trail, one of nine of the SKLT’s trails and one which Landstreet found perfect for hosting the StoryWalk.
“This particular trail is pretty short,” Landstreet said. “It’s about eight tenths of a mile, it’s very level, it’s very user friendly (and) not difficult. It’s in a neighborhood, so it doesn’t get the same traffic that some of our other trails get, so it’s really the perfect trail for a family, for younger children, it’s a great trail for that. It’s a nice way to bring a little attention to this trail.”
While the StoryWalk is slated to run through this Sunday, Landstreet said the response from the public has been wonderful and they are considering keeping it up longer and plan on featuring more stories in the future.
“Most of the people that we’ve heard from have been people who’ve walked out there with their grandchildren and they’ve taken pictures with the grandchildren and them at the StoryWalk and then they’ve posted it on social media,” Landstreet said. “People have gone and just said really nice things (about) how much they enjoyed it, how much they enjoyed being introduced to the book and the trail and that it was user friendly and just a really charming story.”
Overall, she credits the success of the StoryWalk entirely to the Board of Directors.
“Our board really took the lead on it and both the idea and the fabrication and really until it came to the installation, staff did that, it was really all board driven, it was great,” Landstreet said.
The entrance to the trail is located on Pine Hill Road in South Kingstown. Street parking is limited as the entrance is located in a neighborhood. Visitors should park on the right shoulder of the road and will see Woodbine Road on their left.
For more information on the South Kingstown Land Trust, visit their website, sklt.org.