Berea Story Trail opens at park

Contributed photo

From left, City of Berea Parks and Recreation Director Cilla Bloom, City Administrator David Gregory, Heather Annie Dent, Mayor Bruce Fraley, and Berea City Councilman/Berea Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Rowlette conduct the ribbon cutting to open the Berea Story Trail. Also present at Thursday's event was Berea City Council member Emily LaDouceur and Berea Independent School District Superintendent Diane Hatchett.

Visitors to Berea City Park will notice a new feature along the paved path that surrounds the t-ball diamond and youth soccer fields: the Berea Story Trail.

The Berea Story Trail consists of 18 interactive panels designed to encourage children to follow the signs, read the story, and do the activities as a way of thinking about their relationship with art. The current Berea Story Trail interactive display features images from the 2003 picture book, The Dot.

The children’s book by Peter H. Reynolds describes the experience of a girl named Vashti, who discovers her artistic side. The panels show illustrations, asking the reader to do an activity like signing their name in the air, imitate some of Vashti’s actions, or asks visitors to compare different kinds of art.

The concept for the Berea Story Trail was developed by local resident Heather Annie Dent while she was participating in a Shift seminar at the Air Institute of Berea College. Dent’s project won a competition in her Shift class, which led to project funding from the City of Berea, said Mayor Bruce Fraley.

At Thursday’s reception, Dent said she was pleased at how the project came together.

“This has been about a year in the making when I got the idea in the Air Shift workshop, and I’m just so amazed that it was just an idea last year and now it’s a real, live thing. Thank you so much everyone for making it possible,” said Dent.

Before the ribbon cutting, Mayor Fraley noted he is proud of Dent, but he also recognized others who helped make the project possible. The project is co-sponsored by the City of Berea, Berea College Partners for Education, and Berea Independent School District. The City of Berea funded the panels, crews from the Berea Public Works Department installed them, and the Parks and Recreation Department worked with Dent to bring the project to fruition, Fraley noted.

“I’m really proud of Heather and her diligence and I think it’s a fabulous idea. If this has been done somewhere else, I don’t know about it,” Fraley said. “This was truly a team effort to get here.”

Mayor Fraley expressed hope that the trail would encourage families and individuals to enjoy the park in a new way.

“It’s [Berea Story Trail] something where young people and adults can get outside, get away from the TVs and put away their cell phones and be together as a family, or where young people can participate in the Story Book Trail together. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for young people and adults.”

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