(Bowling Green, KY) – Learning happens everywhere a child goes, but parents, grandparents and caregivers may not always know how to support that learning.

That won’t be the case at G.H. Freeman Park (located at 545 Plano Richpond Road). When Mom & Dad or Grandma & Grandpa take their favorite young child to the park now, they’ll be able to play fun games together that will help the child come to school ready to succeed from day one.

That’s because Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB) – with  support from Lowe’s and Warren County Parks and Recreation – created  an outdoor interactive learning Trail to help parents, grandparents and caregivers turn excursions into fun learning moments, the first ever to be installed in Southern Kentucky. Volunteers from BSFB will be installing the Trail in the upcoming week. The Trail will be officially unveiled at G.H. Freeman Park as part of a Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 11:00am. All community members are invited to join in the celebration.

The Born Learning Trail, now available at G.H. Freeman Park, is a series of learning activities that an adult can play with young children.

Based on the latest early childhood research and approved by national early learning experts through United Way of America, 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.

After an extensive 18-months of research by United Way into the needs of the Southern Kentucky community that began in 2012, United Way of Southern Kentucky identified Kindergarten Readiness as an issue on which to take a greater focus. From the research, it was discovered that nearly 50% of local children in Southern Kentucky are entering kindergarten on day one deemed ‘not ready’ to succeed. Since that time and discovery, United Way has set forth a bold goal of increasing the number of children who are ready for kindergarten to 75% by the year 2020. In order to reach this goal, United Way has adjusted their funding structure to allow for 25% of annual funding to be specifically targeted at Kindergarten Readiness programs.

As part of this research, United Way also found that many parents and caregivers don’t know exactly what actions to take to prepare young children for school and that parents and caregivers feel like they don’t have the time to do what’s needed. Thus United Way understood that efforts would be required to go beyond just the funding of programs and launched a Kindergarten Readiness awareness campaign last year to help educate parents about how to better prepare their children for day one of kindergarten. As part of this effort, United Way is encouraging parents to READ, PLAY, COUNT, and LOG OFF with their children. Parents can also log onto the United Way microsite MyChildIsReady.com to find information to determine if their child is kindergarten ready and if not, how they can adapt everyday activities to increase the level of their child’s readiness.

Access to learning opportunities like those provided by The Born Learning Trail will continue to encourage and teach parents and caregivers how to READ, PLAY, COUNT, and LOG OFF with their children every day.

“The Born Learning Trail promotes fun and games – important components of early childhood learning,” said Debbie Hills, President & CEO of United Way of Southern Kentucky. “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. And we want to help parents, grandparents and caregivers to use everyday outings – including trips to G.H. Freeman Park – to support that learning.”

The first Born Learning Trail in Southern Kentucky is sponsored by Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (with support from Lowe’s and Warren County Parks and Recreation). “Giving back to the communities that we call home is important to all of us at BSFB.  We are committed to doing our part to support early childhood education and raising the bar for kindergarten readiness,” said Kevin Greer, Senior Human Resources Generalist for Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. “In addition to the opportunities for interaction, the lessons learned from the trail can then be translated to the home, car rides and even the grocery store for continued enhancement of a child’s basic skills and thus play an important part in preparing them for kindergarten and beyond. “

For more information, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.  

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Therefore, the vision of United Way is a Southern Kentucky where all residents are educated, healthy, and financially stable. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work.