A summer reading and numeracy project that was forced out of Nottingham’s parks by the coronavirus pandemic has become an online hit.
Over 5,000 families have already logged on to a digital version of StoryParks, which last year took place in five Nottingham City Council Green Flag parks across the city.
Lockdown measures led to the decision to take the partnership between the council and Nottingham Building Society entirely online at www.storyparksnottingham.com, with the building society providing the funding to make it extensively interactive.
The site features new content every week, covering activities from storytelling and music to financial literacy and wellbeing. It includes videos and podcasts hosted by a range of local entertainers such as Rainbow Stripes, Louise Chambers Yoga, Beatfeet and storyteller Nicky Rafferty.
Children can also search their gardens for mini beasts with Ranger Matt, and hear stories read by firefighters from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue as well as Leicester Tigers rugby star Harry Wells.
Author Jonathan Emmett has also been commissioned to write a StoryParks book based on Nottingham Building Society founder Samuel Fox. Born in the city in the 1700s, Fox was an abolition Quaker, keen philanthropist and supporter of literacy and education for all. He started the first adult school in 1798 to enable factory workers to learn how to read and write.
Cllr Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “We are very grateful to Nottingham Building Society for helping us build on the successful StoryParks project in this way; to be able to commission local artists to create content and help us adapt to current circumstances so quickly has been awe-inspiring.
“We hope children and families enjoy the resources and we look forward to seeing what their ‘in’maginations come up with. We are planning some great new things in readiness for everybody getting out and enjoying the parks in person once restrictions are lifted and the project can get outdoors again.”
David Marlow, Chief Executive of Nottingham Building Society, added: “After the success of last year’s events we were really excited to once again support StoryParks. The steps that have been put in place to allow the parks to be brought to the people are fantastic.
“The online content that has been created is engaging and educational and we are pleased that the story of our founder, Samuel Fox, has once again been incorporated so people can learn more about how he helped the city through many hard times in his day. In the same way, we are glad to support a project that seeks to help people through this hard time and beyond when the parks and open spaces will no doubt be visited with renewed appreciation.”
The online resources will be regularly updated and available until at least the end of July to inspire imaginations through lockdown and beyond, with the council and building society in constant dialogue as to whether it will be safe and sensible for any of the activities to return to the parks in 2020.
StoryParks online is also part of Nottingham City Council’s Staying Home campaign which offers a range of activities and fun things for the family to do from home during the current social restrictions. Find out more at www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/stayinghome.