SFHA Library creates socially distanced ‘Story Walk’

SFHA Library creates socially distanced ‘Story Walk’

by Winifred Brown
U.S. Army

SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan (April 8, 2020) – Camden and Kaia Carmona used to enjoy their regular visits to the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Library with their mother, so they were disappointed when it had to close due to COVID-19.

They still miss it, but in the meantime, they are thankful for the library’s “Story Walk” along the fence next to John O. Arnn Elementary School, which provides them the opportunity to read a book outside and get a little exercise at the same time.

“It’s good because they put the pictures up there because the library is closed,” said Camden, 6, referring to weather-protected pages from the book “Corduroy” by Don Freeman securely attached to the fence.

Jim Lacombe, supervisory librarian for the Camp Zama and SHFA libraries, said the installation of the book is an initiative to give families and children something to do during this difficult time when many are stuck at home.

“It’s right there along the fence line where everybody driving by can see it,” Lacombe said. “We wanted a high-visibility location.”

The pages are about 15 feet apart, giving people ample room for social distancing, Lacombe said.

Danielle Carmona, Camden and Kaia’s mother, said she and her children love the book, about a stuffed bear for sale in a department store who is missing a button on his overalls.

“I had totally forgotten about that book,” Carmona said. “I used to read that as a kid, so when I saw it, I got excited. I said, ‘Oh, I have to read this.’”

Camden and Kaia, 4, said they both enjoyed the book and its happy ending.

“It’s beautiful,” Camden said, “and my mom’s voice is beautiful [reading it].”

The family lives near the school, so the first time they read it, the children got on their scooters and rode over to see the book, Carmona said, adding exercise to the visit.

Lacombe said exercise is part of the plan when it comes to the Story Walk. Although the walk itself is only about 225 feet long, the housing area is small enough so most visitors would walk, bike or use scooters to get there.

The Story Walk is part of a Camp Zama Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation initiative called the Community Immunity Team, which aims to provide the community with as many activities as possible, and most of the team’s projects include exercise.

Lacombe said he hopes to put up more books along the Story Walk, but is not sure yet which book he will put up next.

Kaia said she would like Lacombe to consider putting up a book about a princess next, namely about Cinderella, her favorite. If that’s not possible, books about Peppa Pig are good too, she said.

In addition to the Story Walk, Lacombe said library lovers should also be aware that the Community Immunity Team has organized a livestreamed Story Time on the Camp Zama MWR Facebook page at 11 a.m. each Friday.

The Army Library Program also has a host of resources available online at mwrlibrary.armybiznet.com , Lacombe said. Resources include databases, recorded books, digital books, magazines, Mango Language (including Japanese) and much more.

For those who have registered for online resources but forgotten their personal identification number, they can retrieve it using the email they used to register at http://mwrlibrary.armybiznet.com/screens/resources.html , Lacombe said.

Those who have not registered before can send their information directly to the Army Library Program via usarmy.mwr.library@mail.mil, Lacombe said.

To keep up with Camp Zama MWR initiatives, visit their Facebook page by searching “Camp Zama MWR.”

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