Vandals target StoryWalk at Luverne park

Published 10:35 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

By Lanell Downs Smith

A local literacy-boosting outdoor activity has become the target of Luverne vandals.

StoryWalk signs at E.L. Turner Park were found damaged on Tuesday. Regional Extension Agent Kristen Sanders, discovered what organizers believe are acts of vandalism, when she visited the park on June 11 and found signs that were damaged.

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“A few of our StoryWalk signs [were damaged],” Sanders said. “Others were also pulled up out of the ground.” 

Luverne Public Library Director Kathryn Tomlin said the damage was not the first discovered on the path created to promote literacy and help community members become more active.

“We discovered some [signs] earlier where people have kicked them and knocked the pages out,” Tomlin said. “It’s not the first vandalism we’ve seen, but it’s the most recent and the most frames that were involved.”

Mason Adcock, captain with the Luverne Police Department (LPD), said video footage may reveal the identity of the vandals. The department requests the public’s assistance and asks anyone who may have relevant information to contact the department.

According to Tomlin, a StoryWalk is a movement- and literacy-boosting project that places an illustrated children’s book, taken apart and displayed page by page, along a walking route in your community. 

“The StoryWalk® Project is a way to convince families to get outside and be active while engaging with literacy,” Tomlin said. “It provides an opportunity for adults to be active alongside children, with no financial limitations that would leave some families out. 

“What does this actually look like? The creator literally takes a book apart and displays it outside, one page at a time, in the correct order. Ms. Ferguson shares tips for her preferred supplies in the StoryWalk FAQ, but I have seen StoryWalks displayed in a variety of ways. From pages attached to fences to fancy podium-style boxes with plexiglass lids, the possibilities are vast, but the outcome is the same: people are encouraged to continue walking to find the next page of the book.There is literacy, there is nature, there is movement. Win, win, win.”

Tomlin said establishing and funding the StoryWalk has been a cooperative effort between Sanders at the Crenshaw County Extension Office, the Luverne Public Library, the Friends of the Library and the City of Luverne. Money raised through library fundraisers, combined with installation and maintenance support from the city, combine to provide the initiative which is free and available to residents and visitors alike. 

Residents have expressed their joy in visiting the walk, Tomlin said. The damage, she added, denied the public an opportunity to enjoy reading and fitness, all in the beautiful park setting.

“Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates all the time, effort and expense that has gone into providing a StoryWalk for the families in our area,” Tomlin said. “Recently, there has been a rash of vandalism at the StoryWalk at the  E.L.Turner Park walking trail. Sign frames have been kicked and torn out of the ground.  This type of vandalism prevents others from enjoying the featured book and being encouraged to eat healthy and stay active.” 

Tomlin urges the public to assist in preserving the StoryWalk.

“Let’s all determine to protect the free services offered to the families in our community,” she said.

The Luverne Police Department has launched an investigation into circumstances surrounding the vandalism. Anyone with information related to the case should call LPD at (334) 335-2406.