BornLearning Trail more than just a walking trail

Published 8:24 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

Children played hopscotch, skipped and raced their way around the quarter mile walking track at the community garden Friday to mark the official opening of the new BornLearning Trail.

The trail features 10 signs with varying exercises, educational tidbits and games for children age 0 to 5 to do along with their parents. The signs were added to the existing walking track through a partnership between Shape up Vicksburg and the United Way of West Central Mississippi with the goal of strengthening families and promoting reading skills.

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“The BornLearning Trail is actually something that is a United Way worldwide project that communities all over our nation are embracing to encourage children and families to strengthen their relationship through activities,” United Way executive director Michelle Connelly said. “They encourage reading, letter recognition, imagination and exercise which are all very important for children ages 0 to 5.”

The trail markers add to the existing walking track, garden and playground as well as the newly opened dog park to turn the strip of land in front of the Vicksburg Municipal Airport into a destination area for families.

“Shape up Vicksburg is all about getting outside to move,” Shape up Vicksburg founder Linda Fondren said. “More than anything else it is about a social experience. When we come together socially, then we begin to help each other. This community garden is positive. It is unique. It is a great way to bring people together.”

The trail officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting and then children from daycares and preschools throughout the county came out to make their way around the track and participate in the activities.

“This is the part of the job that I absolutely love,” Connelly said. “To work hard with the community as a whole to bring something to life and to actually see that come to life with the children in our community. They are our future. We’ve got to honor that and respect that and give them what they need to prosper. It can be duplicated all throughout our community.”

Adding the trails had been a dream, Connelly said, and by partnering with Shape up Vicksburg they were able to make it a reality. The two organizations’ commitment to fitness and building families played a major role in the city of Vicksburg winning the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ Culture of Health prize last year.

“I got with Linda Fondren with Shape up Vicksburg and Linda loved the idea of it and thought it would be a great compliment to the track that was already installed here,” Connelly said. “We talked and worked on it and my dream came true. I think it is of the upmost importance that we provide things for children of this age.”