Fourth Park to Add Born Learning TrailBy BUSTER WOLFE,
A Born Learning Trail will be established at the Optimist Park after the Lamar County Board of Supervisors approved a request Monday by Tracie Fowler with sponsorship of Merit Health Wesley.
Fowler, President/CEO of the United Way of Southeast Mississippi, said the 10 signs along the walking track would be available at no charge.
“It won’t cost you anything because our friends at Merit Health Wesley have agreed to sponsor this trail,” she said. “What it is basically is a series of 10 signs similar to this that would go all the way around the walking track that is around the playground.”
Fowler said the signs encourage parents with children at the park to look for different ways to engage them in learning while they play.
“This gives them ‘Watch. Learn. Stop and Play.’ ‘Watch what your child likes to do when playing with other children,’” she said. “It just gives them other ideas of how to learn.
We know that children learning while they play is very important. Starting very early is important. I think this is a way that we can do this.”
District 4 Supervisor Phillip Carlisle said he supported the trail.
“I have talked with the board members about it and I don’t think anyone has an issue with it,” he said. “I think that it would be a great addition.”
Fowler said United Way of Southeast Mississippi has already completed other Born Learning Trails locally.
“We just finished one that the Kiwanis Club sponsored at Kamper Park,” she said. “That is similar to the one we are planning. Sunrise Rotary Club is getting ready to put one at Tatum Park. We also have one at Town Square Park. So, this would be our fourth park and we are very thankful that Merit Health has agreed to sponsor it and cover all costs.”
According to the local United Way website, “By the time a child starts kindergarten, 85 percent of the child’s brain has developed. Everyday life is a learning experience for children.”
The foundation for a child’s education takes place from birth until they are 5 years old. Providing educational opportunities throughout the community encourages caregivers to build that educational foundation with their children. Creating a strong foundation sets up a child for success in kindergarten. If a child is prepared for kindergarten, they are more likely to read on grade-level by third grade, which makes them more likely to graduate from high school.