MACC the site of fifth Alamance StoryWalk location

On Tuesday, June 11, local civic and elected leaders made their way to the Mebane Arts and Community Center to dedicate a new StoryWalk location - the county's fifth. Mayor Glendel Stephenson provided his thoughts on the new site, which combines learning with physical activity. The new Mebane StoryWalk is the result of cooperation between the City of Mebane and numerous local groups, including Samet Corporation and the Mebane Women's Club, along with United Way of Alamance County and others.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, Alamance County welcomed the fifth installation of the county’s StoryWalk program at the Mebane Arts and Community Center. Mebane’s StoryWalk installation is sponsored by the Mebane Women’s Club and Samet Corporation. Cheryl Ray represented the Mebane Women’s Club and Brian Denisar represented Samet Corporation in a formal ribbon cutting at the new StoryWalk facility at the MACC. 

Following a welcome by Kellee Hawley of United Way of Alamance County, Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson provided some words on behalf of the City. Also on hand were Storywalk partners Risha Bigelow of Alamance County Public Libraries, and Penny Scott of the Alamance Partnership for Children. They, along with the City of Mebane, were key strategic partners in bringing StoryWalk to Mebane. 

The StoryWalk project was developed by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library to encourage reading while enjoying physical activity. In the spring of 2017, the Education Division of Community Council, sponsored by United Way of Alamance County, began discussing StoryWalk after hearing interest from numerous local partners and stakeholders. 

Following a series of meetings, Alamance County’s first StoryWalk installation was established at North Park in Burlington. Subsequent StoryWalk installations were added at Historic Glencoe Mill Village’s Outdoor Learning Environment in Burlington, Beth Schmidt Park in Elon, and the Graham Middle School walking track. Each site costs approximately $5,000, which is covered by local corporations and charitable groups. 

The book currently being featured at the Mebane MACC StoryWalk installation is Amanda Berger’s “What If?”, though the books will be changed throughout the year with help from Alamance County Public Libraries. Some of the books rotated around at other StoryWalk sites in Alamance County include Misty Copeland’s “Firebird” and Susan Verde’s “I Am Yoga,” among others. 

The StoryWalk initiative combines physical activity and reading. The book is broken down into 16 different segments, set up on raised podiums approximately 60 to 80 feet apart. Each segment features various pages of the book. In the installation at the MACC, the various segments snake around the back of the building, adjacent to the MACC’s athletic fields, before working back up to Corrigidor Street and the MACC’s front entrance. 

Through serve and return interactions, adults play a critical role in the brain development of young children. Social communication is the most important kind of stimulation need for healthy development, and illustrates what serving and returning is all about. Initiatives such as StoryWalk promote learning, family interaction, and physical engagement. 

Along with Mayor Stephenson, another local elected official, former Alamance County Commissioner Robert Byrd, was onhand for the StoryWalk dedication. It is believed that Byrd, a strong proponent of early literacy and education during his four-year term on the County Commissioners from 2015 to 2018, is planning to make a run in 2020 to reclaim a seat on the county’s representative board. 

“(The) Ribbon Cutting for the latest StoryWalk facility in Alamance County was just another example of how our community collaborates to improve life for everyone,” Byrd said in a Facebook post. “A great way to combine physical activity with reading, StoryWalk deconstructs pages from children’s books and attach them to stakes along an outdoor path. As a child traverses the path accompanied by a responsible adult, with interactive ”serve and return” exchanges around the book’s story, thousands of neuropathways are formed in the child’s brain, building the foundation for future learning as well as social and emotional development.”