In its first year, the Story Walks program proved to be a family favourite from the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Centre.
For year two, they have expanded it. The program, which began in the spring, offers new “self-guided” stories and walks every two weeks. The first time around, the focus was on locations in the three municipalities, but now the program is moving out into areas of the electoral districts.
“We’re happy to say that the CVRD has come on board with us,” says Peter Bazovsky, executive director of the CVLLC. “We’re actually going to be reaching out much further…. We will still have them, obviously, in the three municipalities, but we’re also intending to move them out to some of the regions that don’t necessarily get a lot of attention.”
For example, a recent one based at Tsolum Spirit Park is based on the book Outside In by Deborah Underwood, with illustrations by Cindy Derby. The story encourages readers to re-think what the outside means and how we interact with it — how it shapes us and we shape it. When a person comes to the end of the story panels, they can continue exploring the trails and environment around them with a little more appreciation for where they are standing.
“It’s an opportunity to enhance that experience of walking,” Bazovsky says. “It’s adding that literacy piece, that language piece and that reading piece to those experiences.”
Other new sites include Dove Creek and Nymph Falls.
The organizers point out the walks take place on unceded Indigenous territory, and they have picked books written by Indigenous authors or with Indigenous content. First Credit Union is again sponsoring the events this spring and summer. Another new feature is that CVLLC is partnering with Courtenay’s Laughing Oyster Books to bring in the books from the walks after many people started asking where they could get copies last year.
“The response we got last year was overwhelming, ” he says. “It was easily our most popular family program.”
The events run at sites for two weeks, then switch up, with new locations posted. The plan is to give people enough of a window over the two weeks that they’ll have time to go without the crowds from a single-day event. This way they can maintain social distancing. CVLLC is also looking at partnerships for special events.
The concept for the walks comes from a Vermont woman named Anne Ferguson and was developed with help from Rachel Senechal, formerly of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
For the Comox Valley events, check the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Centre Facebook page for updated schedules and information about the sites. There is also more information on the CVLLC website at http://cvllc.ca/