Have you seen new sign posts and planter boxes in the north woods of Pennypack on the Delaware? It’s all part of a new initiative between Riverfront North Partnership and students from Youth Volunteer Corps Philly.
Youth Volunteer Corps of Philadelphia (YVC) partnered with Riverfront North Partnership through its new Park Ambassadors Program to create this exciting new amenity along the riverfront in the northern woods of Pennypack on the Delaware. Middle and High School aged youth volunteers from around the city came together to design, build, and install a Storybook Trail project intended to promote a joy of reading and create informational posts about the parks and trails along the Delaware River waterfront. They created a storybook that brings the natural wonders of the park to life in a way that is fun and accessible for the park’s younger visitors. The project kicked off this October and will stay installed until further notice.
How did the project come together?
The project took place in steps despite the difficult scheduling due to the pandemic. Youth volunteers first met in groups virtually to hear about the project and park and to brainstorm ideas about how they could help encourage new visitors to the parks and trails on the Delaware River waterfront. Once the Storybook Trail was chosen, YVC and RNP worked together to design and build the elements of the trail including the signposts and a planter box designed as a real life seek and find for the native species growing in the meadow. YVC and RNP hosted a launch event in November to kick off the completed project.
The Youth Volunteers worked hard to author their own story that highlights the natural resources, animal, and plant life native to Philadelphia and Pennypack on the Delaware. In preparation of creating the story, Riverfront North staff hosted youth volunteers on site visits to educate them on all the park has to offer and also put in a tremendous amount of work and care to produce informational materials for the youth to use as inspiration and source material.
How do I experience the storybook trail?
Once in Pennypack on the Delaware park, follow the riverfront trail north. Start at the first wooden signpost located just inside of the fence in the ‘nature section’ (northern woods) of the park. Walk along the off-road path into the woods until you find the next sign post. Continue walking until you’ve looped around and read all 9 posts!
More About YVC
YVC is open to anyone between the ages of 11-18 and often works with alumni and other adult volunteers as well. Youth Volunteers come from neighborhoods across the city. Forging new connections and collaborations from students from different schools is an integral part of YVC. Youth or adults who want to get involved can do so online at yvcphiladelphia.org or by downloading the YVC Philly mobile app from the Apple or Google Play Stores.
This year, youth volunteers are going to continue working on “Trash to Treasure”, one of three core Changemaker Initiatives. Youth collect plastic trash/waste to help keep it out of our waterways, break it down and mold it into reusable stock via a homemade recycling process, and design new items to be created from the recycled material. It is an exciting project to be a part of and participate in each step of the process of going from trash to treasure, as we work towards building a more sustainable and environmentally stable future. Youth Volunteers will also continue to work on the “Building our Future” initiative where youth learn basic carpentry tools and techniques as we build resources for our school and community partners, and the “Advocacy & the Arts” initiative where creative outlets are used to amplify youth and minority voice and participate in advancing the dialogue surrounding the social issues that are most important to our communities. YVC works with organizations around the region.
Riverfront North Partnership has been an ongoing service partner of YVC Philly since its inception in the 2015-16 school year. YVC has completed many projects with RNP at Lardner’s Point Park, the Frankford Boat Launch, and Pennypack on the Delaware. This project allowed students to be creative, innovative, and community change-makers.