Photo courtesy of the City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Community members are applauding the grand opening of the Community Story Walk at Ryan, an interactive and visual literary journey of play, to the Thomas P. Ryan R-Center and Sully Branch Library.

“I am so proud to live in a city that fully recognizes the true value of play and its role in the development of children,” Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said. “Kids who play every day are healthier, do better in school and have less anxiety. They also develop important social-emotional skills such as teamwork and conflict resolution. All this helps us create more jobs, safer/more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

“The Story Walk displays the colorful imagination of children and promotes literacy,” said Ned Davis, executive director of the Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library. “Play fosters caregiver and child interactions and builds enduring relationships. It also allows parents to glimpse into their children’s world to learn how to communicate more effectively and gain a better understanding of their child.”

“The spaces where kids live, learn and play is crucial role in their wellbeing,” said Mike Bulger, Common Ground Health’s healthy communities coordinator. “Good spaces can promote social-emotional learning, physical activity and they can let kids be kids. This story walk is a great example of kids and parents coming together to create something positive.”

Department of Recreation and Youth Services Commissioner Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres joined community partners and neighborhood children Aug. 15 to celebrate the completion of Community Story Walk at Ryan with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Located outside of the Sully Branch Library and Ryan R-Center in the Beechwood neighborhood, the Community Story Walk at Ryan creates an inviting space to help kids learn, play and thrive as they grow. It is a visual story titled “Seeds of Success” told with a playful, interactive sidewalk mural; a garden; illustrations and picture-book chapters displayed along the walkway the Ryan Center entrance.

It is the second Story Walk to be installed outside a City library following the 2017 installation of the Story Walk at the Phillis Wheatley Library in the Southwest section of Rochester.

The project is a collaboration of many groups: the City of Rochester, the Department of Recreation and Youth Services; the Department of Environmental Services; the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development; the Rochester Public Library; the Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library; the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition; Healthi Kids Coalition of Common Ground Health; and School No. 33.

Students from the summer program at the R-Center, East High School and the Beechwood neighborhood worked with a writer to develop a fictional story and features Mayor Warren. The young authors were presented with a copy of the story at the ribbon cutting. In addition to writing the story, children who live in the Beechwood neighborhood also helped paint the mural, guided by noted Rochester muralist Shawn Dunwoody and artist Josh Gervais, a student at the School of the Arts.

The project was funded with grants from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and the New York State Department of Health.