Isabela Allen, a member of Troop Girl Scout Troop 40302, recently hosted the grand opening of the “Story Stroll,” her Girl Scout Gold Award project, at Jerseyland Park in Scotch Plains.

On Sept. 18, the Scout was joined by Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith to cut the ceremonial red ribbon and to officially open the “Story Stroll,” which is designed to promote early childhood literacy.

Also present at the event were the Scotch Plains deputy township manager and members of the town council, the director and Youth Services from the Scotch Plains Public Library, the director of the Scotch Plains Parks and Recreation Department, members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, members of the Union Catholic High School community, family and friends.

The “Story Stroll” is a series of 16 signs containing the pages of a children’s picture book mounted on posts along the path in the park. The goal is for children to practice reading and enhance their literacy skills as they stroll the path together with their caregivers. Currently, the picture book on display is “Fox Makes Friends” by Adam Relf, with plans for the book to be changed periodically.

Allen, a senior at Union Catholic High School and a Scotch Plains resident, collaborated with the Scotch Plains Public Library and the Parks and Recreation Department to create the “Story Stroll.” The project was 18 months in the making and included researching early childhood literacy, designing the signs, raising funds through the sale of handmade bookmarks featuring quotes from famous authors, learning basic woodworking skills, and finally building and installing the signs in the park.

It is Allen’s aspiration that the “Story Stroll” will be a positive impact in the Scotch Plains community and beyond. “I hope that my project will inspire the young children who visit the park to have a lifelong love of reading,” said Allen. “I really love to read, and I want to share the incredible joy and magic of reading with children. If my project can make a real, positive difference in the lives of the children who visit it, I will be absolutely thrilled. I hope they come back again and again to read new stories as the librarians swap out the books in the Story Stroll, and that they enjoy it and learn from it each time.”

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