The Garden City Telegram
10/14/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Happy trails

Credit groups for strides toward learning environment.

Communities should embrace any endeavor that combines exercise and education.

Good projects that do as much have materialized nationwide in the form of Born Learning Trails, outdoor pathways featuring learning games that serve as a way to build pre-literacy skills critical to school readiness.

Garden City installed its Born Learning Trail last year at Harold Long Park, and another trail is coming to life at Holcomb Community Park.

Credit investment by both communities, efforts by the Finney County Health Coalition, Finney County United Way and other local organizations for creating trails that provide meaningful opportunities for young children to be better prepared for school, while also adding to overall local quality of life.

Geared toward youngsters not yet in school, Born Learning Trails include signs with suggested activities for adults and children to enjoy together.

The pathways dotted with colorful stops are designed to have parents and other caregivers engage with children in a variety of activities, while giving the adults ideas on how to turn those opportunities into learning moments.

Signs along Garden City's Born Learning Trail, for example, touch on such activities as recognizing colors, letters and numbers, listening to birds and telling stories — the kind of mental exercises that build a child's curiosity and confidence.

Spending time in a fun setting, while outside in nature, also promises to pay dividends for years to come. At a time more emphasis must be placed on exercise for all ages, encouraging children and adults to utilize walking trails could help lead them toward better physical fitness.

Turning outdoor play into learning makes sense. Beyond the obvious benefits, a Born Learning Trail also becomes the kind of value-added feature that makes a community more appealing to potential new residents, and boosts quality of life for the folks already there.

Parents and other caregivers interested in getting children on the right path toward early learning should take advantage of the Born Learning Trail in their community.

Towns without as much should consider the value of such an investment, and set out in pursuit of their own fun and engaging educational pathway.