Granite United Way Launches Born Learning Trail to Promote Early Childhood Learning, Literacy, and Family Fun
On September 25, 2017, Granite United Way hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for New Hampshire’s first Born Learning Trail at Sweeney Park on the West Side of Manchester.
The Trail features signs in English and Spanish that offer fun, interactive messages, along with colorful sidewalk murals, that prompt caregivers and children to use the Trail as a way to turn everyday outings at Sweeney Park into learning opportunities.
Funding for the Born Learning Trail was generously provided by the Cogswell Benevolent Trust. The Trail was installed in partnership with the City of Manchester– Parks, Recreation, and Cemeteries Division, with assistance from Harvey Construction, and supplies from Belletetes Inc. and Reliable Equipment. The painting was generously donated by alum from the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Manchester’s Mayor Theodore Gatsas, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, Superintendent of the Manchester School District, Don Pinard, Chief of Parks for the City of Manchester—Parks, Recreation, and Cemeteries Division, and Patrick Tufts, President & CEO of Granite United Way, helped to formally open the trail to the community. Preschool students from Easterseals’ Child Development Center and their teachers were on hand to enjoy the Trail activities and participate in story time and a singalong.
Based on the latest early childhood research and approved by national early learning experts through United Way Worldwide, the Born Learning Trail is designed to help adults interact with children to boost language and literacy development and to help caregivers understand how to best support early learning in outdoor everyday moments.
“The Born Learning Trail promotes fun and games — important components of early childhood learning,” said Patrick Tufts, President & CEO of Granite United Way. “Research tells us children are literally ‘born learning.’ That means five years of education take place before they ever enter kindergarten. We know that what happens in a child’s early years matters — for success in life and for school readiness. We want to help parents, grandparents and caregivers use everyday outings — including trips to Sweeney Park— to support that learning.”
The ribbon cutting served as a public announcement of Granite United Way’s four-part investment in literacy on Manchester’s West Side, called “West Side Reads.” This initiative, funded by a generous grant from The Cogswell Benevolent Trust, brought together partners from across the West Side with a singular focus on improving literacy for children. It puts books into the hands of young readers through visits to their pediatricians at the Manchester Community Health Center; it embeds literacy in playtime with parents and children at Easterseals’ Child Development Center; and it supports struggling middle school readers at the Middle School at Parkside.
“We are excited about this initiative and hope to replicate the model of West Side Reads, including the installation of the Born Learning Trail, across our footprint, which encompasses roughly 80% of the State of New Hampshire and Windsor County, VT,” says Tufts.