StoryWalk 1

Matthew Picchioni poses with his Eagle Scout project at the Cumberland Monastery, a StoryWalk used by library staff to present books to children in a creative way to get them active. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

CUMBERLAND – Matthew Picchioni says he didn’t want to just build some benches or create some other unhelpful run-of-the-mill Eagle Scout project that no one would appreciate.

Instead, say staff at the Cumberland Public Library, Picchioni created a valuable resource for the community and saved them a ton of time in the process.

Lisa Haley, children’s library assistant, says it would take her three to four full work days to set up each StoryWalk before Picchioni created new cases for his Eagle Scout project. Now, she says, after Picchioni installed 20 new signs for the library’s StoryWalk, she finishes setup within hours.

“The staff of the Children’s Room is very excited about this new StoryWalk project,” she said. “The signs that Matt made are sturdy and weather protected, and look very professional.”

The library’s StoryWalk allows families to enjoy a picture book in the great outdoors. Each sign displays one page of the book that is featured for the month in cases surrounding the playground at the Cumberland Monastery where the library is located. Haley changes the story each month.

“The families love it,” she told The Breeze, adding that library staff had been talking about installing a StoryWalk for a long time when they realized that a pandemic offered the right opportunity to finally take the plunge.

Picchioni said he’s proud of the work he and Troop 1 Diamond Hill did over 152 combined hours, and happy that it benefited the library and its patrons in such a tangible way. He said the biggest challenge of the project was adjusting to all the little adjustments that went into creating the boards, as it was far from a precise science.

“There was a lot of trial and error and bent parts, but it was able to be done,” he said.

He said his best discovery was large plastic sleeves for Haley to use as page protectors, as it was impossible to get the display cases entirely waterproof even with Plexiglas.

Most of the hours that went into this project were completed before setup day, said Picchioni, with actual installation taking only about two hours.

The Cumberland High School senior and cross-country member said the library has reported lots of use for the StoryWalk, which is designed to get children moving and staying healthy.

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Haley said the StoryWalk was first created in June of last year to get young people outside during the pandemic. The children’s library area still isn’t hosting activities beyond people coming in to pick up their items, she said, though they are excited to soon start some programs in October, limited to no more than 10 children, in robotics, ballet, chess, and Paws to Read.

The son of Jeffrey and Heidi Picchioni, Matthew has one sister, Allison. He has lived in Cumberland just about all of his life. He says he hopes to go to college to major in physical therapy to go into athletic training.

The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson, of Montpelier, Vt., and developed with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk is a registered service mark owned by Ferguson.

Most children’s books are about 32 pages, said Haley, making them just the right size for a StoryWalk, with two pages per sign. The signs Picchioni created are technically not allowed to be permanent because restrictions at the Monastery requiring only temporary additions to the property.

Most signs before Picchioni’s project had to be tossed out because they’d get ruined by rain, said Haley, but signs now are fully protected and can be saved to be used again.

“When I took those out Aug. 31, I was shocked at how nice they looked,” she said.

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