MANSFIELD -- Kingwood Center’s brand new Storybook Trail offers children and families a chance to enjoy a heartwarming story and a walk in the woods all at the same time. 

Kingwood debuted the trail at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. 

“We want to be very intentional about providing experiences not just for adults, but for children and families. And so this is part of that initiative,” said Brenda Nelson, director of development and marketing for Kingwood Center Gardens. 

Wooden stands along the gravel path display pages of a children’s story. The first featured book is The Someone New by Jill Twiss and E.G. Keller. The heartwarming tale follows Jitterbug, a chipmunk who learns to let go of fear and make a new friend.

“It’s a wonderful story with great character qualities and a great challenge to not let fear rule, but to be willing to accept new into your life,” said Nelson.

Nelson said that the featured story will change three times a year. Each featured story will be nature or garden related. The books featured on the Storybook Trail will also be available for sale in the garden shop.

The woodland nature trail is about 500 feet long, beginning at the Peacock Playhouse and ending near the bottom of the Park Avenue parking lot. 

Staff members clear the lesser-used trail, trimming back tree branches and adding gravel.

The improvements were funded by the Keyser Library Fund and the George and Barbara Keyser D A Fund of Richland County Foundation, along with Park National Bank, a 2020 Kingwood sponsor. 

“My vision was to expand on an area that was underutilized that we already had to make Kingwood feel bigger,” said Brandon Clayton, visitor services director. 

It's done in collaboration with the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.

“We’re excited about this collaboration,” said Chris May, library director. “To see several entities come together who want to promote nature and literacy in the youth of Richland County -- I think that’s something that is great to see.”

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