Library featuring new outdoors program

For exploring Block Island’s trails
Thu, 05/16/2019 - 5:45pm
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A new outdoor children’s program has been launched by the Island Free Library.

Called “Healthy Kids Inside & Out,” the program uses backpacks filled with a variety of educational tools aimed at getting kids outdoors to explore Block Island’s natural environment. It’s an interactive program where kids provide information about their experiences.

“I wanted a program for the kids that dealt with both nature and the library,” said Morgan Walsh, the library’s Youth Services Librarian, who created and launched the program last week. “I would like people to be aware that they’re here, and can be checked out using a library card for a three-day period. There is no age limit to them, in my opinion all ages can enjoy them, they are easily adaptable.”

The program involves children checking out one of five colored backpacks that are available at the library on a coat rack that resembles a tree. Each of the backpacks is named after an island trail, and contains useful information that kids can reference while they explore.

“It is a learning experience for the children and adults as we venture out, and really exemplifies what this community can do when we stick together,” said Walsh. “I picked out the five trails to give the kids something to explore as a goal.” The five trails that the program features are: Rodman’s Hollow, the Hodge Preserve, Andy’s Way, Fresh Pond, and the Beach Avenue trail.

Walsh said the backpacks contain a checklist for the trails, books, eating utensils, a journal, field guides, a magnifying glass, trash bags, and a plastic container for capturing insects for proper identification. “The trail checklist tells the kids about the ecosystem of each place, and the books have a call number on them so kids can research other books related to a particular topic at the library.” 

The library has worked closely with The Nature Conservancy over the years, and this new program was developed with its cooperation. Kim Gaffett, The Nature Conservancy’s Ocean View Foundation naturalist, helped create the checklists for each of the trails included in the program on behalf of The Nature Conservancy.

“This program has inspired more collaboration with Kim, and The Nature Conservancy, because we want to continue the connection between nature, learning, and reading,” said Walsh.  

If the program does well, Walsh said she hopes “to add more backpacks and kits to check out. This way we will be advocating for healthy kids all year round.”

To learn more about the Island Free Library and its programming schedule, go to: islandfreelibrary.org/weekly-programs/.