(Paul Schaumburg/Graves County Schools)
A bornlearning Trail the Mayfield-Graves County United Way recently introduced is available for young families at Kess Creek Park in Mayfield. It includes instructions for learning activities there so parents of children under age 5 can help them develop an interest in and love of learning through simple, everyday interactions, based on what's in front of them - teachable moments. Mayfield-Graves County United Way executive director Vanessa Burns cuts the ribbon to open the trail. She collaborated with the City of Mayfield and Jackson Purchase Medical Center to create the bornlearning Trail. Toyota Motor Corporation, based in Georgetown, has provided substantial funding for a "bornlearning Academy" based at Wingo Elementary School, but serving the entire county. The United Way of Kentucky and the local chapter of that organization are co-sponsors of the project.
“It’s great to be here today at Wingo Elementary School to celebrate the launching of another bornlearning Academy,” Rick Hesterberg recently told a crowd at the southwestern Graves County school. He’s the manager of external affairs and community relations at Toyota Motor Corporation’s Georgetown plant.
“We were talking two years ago about not only giving money to support important projects, but also making sure that we’re making a difference,” he continued. “We talked with the United Way and folks in the governor’s office and this idea of early childhood learning kept coming up. We know that when children start school trailing behind other kids it’s difficult to catch up. That’s why we got involved. We think these programs can really help move the needle in making a difference in these areas.”
“We’re so grateful for the opportunity from Toyota and the United Way to partner with us to offer training for Graves County parents of young children,” said Graves County Schools Superintendent Kim Harrison. “This project provides tools for those parents to help their children learn from the very beginning and to foster a lifelong love of learning.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring the family unit back together again and help parents learn and teach,” said United Way of Kentucky president Doug Eberhart. “Children are not born with instructions and I know when my children were small I would love to have had a program like this to know how to help them.”
“This offers parents strategies to take into their everyday lives in the grocery store, in the home, or even sitting on the front porch with their kids,” said Wingo family resource center director Tana Jones.
She noted that inspiring children to learn can be as simple as counting cars or identifying their colors. “During the training sessions we have coming up, we will work with the parents. The children will have activities at the same time. Then, we bring the two back together to practice their skills on-site before they go back home.”
Jones said the parent training sessions and the entire bornlearning program will be open to all Graves County parents of young children.
The first session will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24. Others will be held Oct. 22, Nov. 26, Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 25, and finally the graduation on April 22.
“Vanessa Burns collaborated with the City of Mayfield and Jackson Purchase Medical Center to create the bornlearning Trail at Kess Creek Park,” she said. “There are activities in the park that parents can use as they go through the trail. The bornlearning Academy targets children from birth to age 5, before entering Kindergarten.”
“I think this is a great opportunity for families in our community,” said Burns, the Mayfield-Graves County United Way executive director. “The Toyota bornlearning Academy will help change the lives of children and their successes will be passed down from generation to generation. Seeing young children succeed from an early age until they graduate high school and beyond is important to all of us. Tana Jones has passion and enthusiasm that will be a great asset to this program.”
“As we launch this bornlearning Academy at Wingo Elementary School, it becomes one of 12 new academies that Toyota is funding for the first time this year across the state,” Hesterberg said. “So, with the nine others since this program began six years ago, we have 21 bornlearning academies in Kentucky. We’ve begun seeing the impact of this program.”
Wingo principal Sarah Saylor concluded, “I’m excited to be able to offer early learning opportunities for students that we would not be able to provide without the partnership with Toyota and the United Way. We are very grateful!”