By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
In August, (then Interim) City Administrator Agnes Arnold presented the City of Parsons council with a memorandum of understanding between Tygart Valley United Way and the City of Parsons. The memorandum set the terms and understandings to install and maintain a Born Learning Trail.
The Born Learning Trail is a series of 10 interactive signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. The signs are accompanied by painted sidewalk art. It helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or visiting a local playground.
The proposed location for the Born Learning Trail is the Allegheny Highlands Trail that connects the Train Depot to the Railway Bridge in Parsons. The responsibility of purchasing all supplies needed to install and maintain the trail as well as the upkeep needed at the beginning of each summer relies solely on Tygart Valley United Way. The City of Parsons will be responsible for providing access to the trail location, notifying of any damage or issues to the trail, and promoting the trail when applicable.
The Tygart Valley United Way serves five counties including Barbour, Marion, Randolph, Taylor and Tucker. Tucker County was the last out of the five to have the signs installed. In memory of 911, Tygart Valley United Way Executive Chief Executive Officer, Brett White, Regional Engagement Director Angela Daniels and art students from Davis and Elkins College volunteered their time and talents in create a work of art trail for the children of Tucker County. Daniels said, “This is for our 911 debt of service. We do it to honor the people that lost their lives on 911.”
The trail’s them is Watch! Stop! Learn! Play! and it encourages parents and caregivers to follow the child‘s lead, building curiosity and confidence and reinforcing learning opportunities present in everyday life. The trail will support language, and literacy and social skills development, while reminding everyone that learning can be fun.
Daniels said, “Me and my nephew played on the one in Barbour County for about an hour. He loved it and he is 10 (years old)”.
According to United Way increased investment in pre-K development fosters healthy growth, decreasing the likelihood of children being affected by various other adversities later on in life. Because of the power of early learning, United Way has established kindergarten readiness as their primary education goal.
The Tygart Valley United Way has done many other charitable community impact projects such as a coat drive that supplied over 2,500 coats to children, and a United for Kids Collection hygiene product drive for students that included over 200 pounds of washing detergent to each schools along with personal hygiene products for the students.