Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA students partner with Capstone Village residents to create children’s book


Looking down at a photo of her grandchildren, Beverley Shivers Sweeney, an 89-year-old resident of Capstone Village, told stories about taking her grandchildren to feed bread to ducks. Sitting by a lake, Sweeney and her grandchildren would give pieces of frozen bread to the ducks. Sweeney said looking at that picture was like going back in time.

Sweeney’s story will join those of other residents of Capstone Village, an assisted living home in Tuscaloosa, in a new children’s book created by the residents and University of Alabama students called “The Adventures of Alex and Megan.”

Kandace Kirkley, activity coordinator and the woman responsible for organizing the creation of the book, said the book centers around two children, Alex and Megan, who visit their mom’s friends, the Capstone residents, and learn things they never knew before.

“This book is about positive memories about their lives for the next generation,” Kirkley said. “It’s their stories. I’m just the messenger.”

Alex and Megan learn how to paint, pick cotton, feed ducks, ski and go on other adventures, reflecting the stories of real people at Capstone Village. Kirkley said she got the idea from the 99th anniversary of Children’s Book Week, set to take place the week of April 30 this year. The book should be completed in time to celebrate the week. Kirkley said the goal is to publish the book and make it accessible on platforms like Amazon. 

There may even be a possibility of the residents doing a small book tour to places like Forest Lake United Methodist Daycare, where they have done activities with the children before. 

Veranda Melton, director of healthcare for Capstone Village, said Capstone Village is always trying to keep their residents engaged.

“There’s so much more life to give,” Melton said.

The book’s stories are being paired with illustrations by Margie Powers, a senior majoring in fine arts. Powers said she was asked to be involved with the book after being a volunteer that painted with residents since the summer before her junior year. 

“Spending time with the residents in general has changed my life,” Powers said.

Powers said the early sketches of the book she created were approved by the residents, and it is a collaboration between them. One of the stories Powers said she has enjoyed illustrating is by a resident named Nancy Taylor.

Powers said Taylor taught herself to paint again after she had a stroke, and Powers helps her through the process. Taylor’s story centers around her memories of painting with her granddaughters.

“I want them to love to paint,” Taylor said. “This experience helps them.”

Karlee Barter, a graduate student for elementary education, is the editor for the book. Barter said she interned at the Children’s Program on campus and met Kirkley there. Kirkley then asked her to be a part of the book project. 

Barter said it’s been super exciting for her because she’s been involved in children’s literature, researching children’s books to collect for her own classroom. 

Both Barter and Powers think this children’s book will be unlike a lot others out there. Barter said the book will stand out because it is tied to a university. Due to Barter being from Tuscaloosa, she said having this book in a community and having a partnership with the University is very important.

“I just see what this town does,” Barter said. “Everyone wants to be connected and connect with the University.”

Powers said she thinks the book stands out from other children’s books because the book is genuine, and today’s market is lacking stories that are shared from real people.

“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to spend time with these people doing something I love,” Powers said. “It’s a good reminder of how good and precious life is.”

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