On July 28, 2021, the AARP announced the 2021 winners of their annual Community Challenge grants. These grants exist to “make communities more livable for people of all ages.”
Among this year’s winners were 13 public libraries from across the United States of America who work hand-in-hand with community partners to make communities that support access to healthy pursuits like walking, bicycling, gardening, playing, as well as access to parks and greenspaces.
This year’s library winners include:
- Malvern: Malvern-Hot Spring County Library
This project expands an existing Story Trail & Garden by adding planters, decorative seating and supplies — including outdoor easels for painting classes, and books for summer reading baskets — to support library programs.
- Readfield: Age-Friendly Readfield
Funding will be used to create a kayak dock, provide outdoor seating at the library and local beach, and acquire equipment for curbside deliveries at the community food pantry.
- Boston: City of Boston
The Boston Public Library will add locations to its free, 24-hour Outdoor Wi-Fi Program so people can access high-speed internet services through workstations located outside of library buildings.
- Rio Arriba County: Vallecitos Community Center and Library
The addition of a covered walkway and footbridge will help make the community center and library safely accessible in all types of weather.
- Grand Forks: Grand Forks Public Library
The Intergenerational Music Playground will bring people of all ages, cultures and abilities together in an interactive and fun way that fosters community connections, inspires innovation and encourages curiosity.
- Veneta: Fern Ridge Public Library
Challenge funds will be used to create a welcoming and safe public courtyard containing furniture created from a beloved Heritage Oak tree that once stood in the location.
- Providence: Providence Community Library
A library lawn will become the location of a staffed, resource-rich park featuring books, games, activities and technology services.
- Richland County: Richland Library
Grant funds will be used to create an open-source “Let’s Talk Race” curriculum that includes facilitation training and a digital tool kit for fostering productive conversations about race, bias, inclusivity and equality.
- Houston: North Houston Management District
As one of Houston’s first augmented reality (AR) installations, a new mural will help make the Aldine Branch Library (Harris County Public Library) a more engaging destination.
- Wolcott: Town of Wolcott
A new park located near the public library, town offices and a trailhead will connect the spaces and feature a community garden, a Wi-Fi hot spot, games, seating and tables.
- Snohomish: Friends of the Snohomish Library
Funding will support the Snohomish Library Story Trail, an installation of 22 “stations” — each holding pages from a children’s picture book — placed along the Centennial Trail.
- Buckhannon: Upshur County Public Library
This project will create a small parklet at the library to provide an appealing public green space that can be used and enjoyed by library patrons and community residents.
- Chilton: Chilton Public Library
A StoryWalk® is a fun, educational activity through which the pages of a children’s book are posted along a popular walking route. Grant funds will be used to install bilingual stories at walkable locations around the community.
This is an annual grant, so make sure to be on the lookout for next year’s call for proposals! Congratulations to all the winners and we can’t wait to see how you will transform your communities with this financial support.
In addition to looking to the national AARP for funding and support, you can also look to regional chapters. Recently, the New Hampshire State AARP worked with the Mount Washington Valley Age-Friendly Community to form a collaboration with seven Mount Washington Valley public libraries to provide the tools you need to start a small kitchen garden (or patio, porch or yard garden). You can check out on loan Lowe’s 5-gallon buckets that have been stocked with hand tools including a trowel, weeder, hoe/transplanter and small clippers. Learn more at AARP Garden Buckets on loan at libraries.
In Massachusetts, new raised garden beds were installed at the Beverly Public Library through a grant from that state’s AARP chapter.
Find an AARP Chapter near you and reach out to see if they may be interested in working with you to transform your community to make it healthier for individuals of all ages and abilities.
The Geri-Fit at the Library Story
Since 2019, Let’s Move in Libraries has worked with the Geri-Fit Company to bring strength training classes for older adults to small and rural public libraries. This summer we produced two new videos that tell the Geri-Fit at the Library story.
Check out the six-minute video and then learn more in this in-depth interview with Geri-Fit Founder Fran Fisher.
We put a lot of work into this project and we’d love your feedback!
New resources from America Walks and the U.S. Play Coalition
Working with the national non-profits America Walks and the U.S. Play Coalition, we are thrilled to announce the release of a number of new free resources. Check them out and share widely!
America Walks – How and Why to Team up with your local librarian to support walkable communities
U.S. Play Coalition – Libraries & PLAY: Learning and Playing at the Library during Early Childhood
Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out at the Library: Play for Teens and Emerging Adults
You’re Never Too Old to Play at the Library
New Let’s Move in Libraries Stories
We’re thrilled to share that public librarians from across North America have recently shared their healthy living stories with us. Check out our newly published stories and consider sharing your own!
- The We Share Program featuring a library greenhouse, seeds, food distribution and more at the Erie City Kansas Public Library
- Field Day at the Library featuring active play stations inside and outdoors at the Northeast Regional Library in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Dancing and walking with the library in Needham, Massachusetts
- Sidewalk obstacle course at the Brighton District Library in Michigan
- Move the Body, Quiet the Mind with the Dewey-Humboldt Town Library in Arizona
- Storytime via book bike in Ohio
- Physical literacy programming for adults in Minocqua, Wisconsin
We also want to thank Amelia Hill from Polk County Public Libraries, in North Carolina, for sharing information with us about this exciting upcoming program. These Books Were Made for Walkin’ was designed “to allow our patrons to connect with each other through their love of the outdoors, physical exercise, and books!” Learn more on the library’s website and on the Facebook Event page.
We’d love to share your story or exiting upcoming programs too! Consider sharing to inspire others. You can reach out to us directly or tag us on social media. We’re on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Let’s Move in Libraries in the news and on the road
We’re thrilled to share that our upcoming StoryWalk Week collaboration with the Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services was featured in the American Library Association’s article “What’s the Story?: Ideas for Creative StoryWalk Programming.”
On Saturday, October 23 from 8:30–11:00 AM, we’ll be leading a morning workshop on the theme of how to “Team Up with Your Community!” to support healthy living at the 2021 conference of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), held in Sparks, Nevada.
Do you have news you’d like to share with us, reach out! We’d love to hear from you.