Visitors to this summer's Story Trail at Friendship Park, 150 Oklahoma Ave., can enjoy a tale of diversity and how two girls form a lasting bond.

Gahanna Parks & Recreation will host a ribbon-cutting celebration at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 26, at the park to officially open the trail.

This year's story, "The Friendship Bridge," will lead visitors down a path with storyboards set low to the ground that allow children to explore pieces of framed art and Ready to Read prompts.

The Story Trail is offered in collaboration with the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Gahanna Lincoln High School. It's part of the Gahanna Library's Summer Reading Program.

Angie Sharkey, youth services manager at the Gahanna library branch, said this year's story talks about friendship conquering all.

It celebrates diversity as two young girls from different cultures meet on a bridge and form a lasting friendship.

"We are excited to collaborate with our partners on this year's Story Trail, which celebrates the diversity in our community," said Tom Kneeland, Gahanna mayor.

"This year's theme is an extension of the rich history of Friendship Park, which was once home to one of the first African-American country clubs in the nation," he said.

Sharkey said a writer's workshop started at the end of March helped to create the story.

"For the last couple of years, we've held a six-week writer's workshop with kids in fifth through eighth grade," she said.

"This year, we had a few returning writers and some new, as well. It's their job to write the story as a group. This year we're proud of the product. It talks about bringing together friendships and community," she said.

Sharkey said the young writers wanted the two girls in the story to be from different cultures.

"They discover each other and become friends," she said. "It's a good theme."

The writers from Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools include Emerson Fry, Najma Gureye, Frankie Nuss, Mikayla Barbe-Cox, Amun Jama and Natalie Fry.

Alyssa Lee, a Gahanna Lincoln High School junior, illustrated the story.

"I'm glad that I could do something for the city of Gahanna that will be seen and appreciated in the community as a whole," she said.

"This project gave me real-world experience working as an illustrator -- which has really helped me validate my interest in pursuing art as a career," she said.

The Story Trail encourages families to engage in the outdoors through reading during the summer.

The story is appropriate for readers of all ages, and it's open during park hours.

The Story Trail celebration will kick-off with a ribbon cutting and include an acoustic musical performance by Casey Redmond. The Gahanna Mobile Activities Center will be on site, providing activities and games.

For more information contact the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Department at 614-342-4250.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla