Two Durham County departments have received National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards. Sensory Storytimes for Adults with Special Needs, a program developed by Durham County Library, won in the Libraries category, and the ChallengeWave fitness program, sponsored by the Durham County Department of Health and Durham County Library, won in the Health category.
Sensory Storytime, a program led by librarian Sarah Alverson at the Stanford L. Warren Branch Library, is an interactive, age appropriate storytime for adults with special needs. Similar to children’s storytimes, Sensory Storytime for adults incorporates music, storytelling, interactive reading, dancing and more. In public libraries, storytimes are offered to children of all ages. They are designed to meet a number of needs, including but not limited to, entertainment, development of comprehension and literacy skills, introduction to multiculturalism, early advocacy for reading and improvement of social skills. The program began in May 2012 after librarians realized a lack of opportunities for special needs communities.
Durham County Library and the Durham County Department of Public Health dared residents to take the ChallengeWave – a four-week, community-wide fitness program that pitted library patrons against each other as they competed to rack up the most ‘activity minutes’ in one month. Willa Robinson, health promotion & wellness program coordinator, and Gina Rozier, marketing and development manager for the library, coordinated the joint project. By tying teams to library locations, the Health Dept. was able to reach people throughout the county, and by linking the fitness competition to the annual Summer Reading Club, the library raised the profile of the ChallengeWave and increased adult participation in Summer Reading.
With the tagline, “Train your brain with Summer Reading. Train your body with ChallengeWave,” the joint initiative was a success. A total of 146 residents participated in the fitness competition, which exceeded the goal of 125, and the number of adults who completed the Summer Reading program more than doubled over 2012 figures – from 172 to 367.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program that recognizes innovative county government programs. Each application is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received. Awards are given in 21 different categories including children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology, health and many more.