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Tygart Valley United Way constructs Born Learning Trail

Submitted photo Employees with the Tygart Valley United Way recently gathered with some friends to cut a ribbon to open the Born Learning Trail at the Barbour County Fairgrounds Park. Pictured, from left, are Barbour County Chamber of Commerce President Hunter Mullens, United Way volunteer Crystal Johnson, Community Impact Director Casey Gilbert, Jason Summerfield (scissors), TVUW Regional Engagement Director Angela Daniels, Barbour County Development Authority Resource Specialist Amber Higgins, Josie Sinsel, Ashton Sinsel and Barbour County Fairgrounds Events Coordinator April Sinsel.

BELINGTON — Employees with the Tygart Valley United Way and a host of volunteers recently completed the construction of a Born Learning Trail at the Barbour County Fairground.

The Trail officially opened at the end of last month and is one of several that the TVUW was helped to construct in the area. The first was opened at Elkins City Park in the spring of 2021.

“We now have Born Learning Trails in all of our counties except Tucker,” said Tygart Valley United Way Regional Engagement Director Angela Daniels. “But we are putting one in Tucker County this fall at a pathway that leads to Mill Race Park.”

Born Learning Trails are geared toward early childhood development and is a trademark of United Way’s mission to support families and children.

“The Born Learning Trail is a fun, easy way for parents, grandparents and caregivers to capture children’s natural curiosity and love of play to help build early learning skills critical for school readiness,” Daniels said.

Those who embark on one of the trails will encounter a series of signs that offer educational games, which are designed specifically to create learning outdoors. The signs’ useful content also provides suggestions for ways for children to learn at their homes.

“The Trail is an interactive, playful and visible tool for community volunteers as well as a change strategy to help boost children’s language and literary skills,” Daniels said. “It encourages families to become active and is a great way to elevate awareness of early childhood education and support year-round health habits for children.”

Barbour County Chamber of Commerce President Hunter Mullens, United Way volunteer Crystal Johnson, Barbour County Community Impact Director Casey Gilbert, Barbour County Development Authority Resource Specialist Amber Higgins and Barbour County Fairgrounds Events Coordinator April Sinsel all joined Daniels for a ceremony to open the newest facility.

“Our area trails were installed by local volunteers and are a true testament to the power of teamwork,” Daniels said. “Each trail features hand-painted art work to accompany the signs along the sidewalk for more interactive playing opportunities.”

Daniels said the reception for all the trails has been tremendous. She said a group of kids at the newest one in Barbour County couldn’t wait to get on it and check everything out.

“As soon as we did the one in Barbour County we had to make sure the paint was dry,” she said. “That’s because there were some kids there wanting to play on it before it was even finished. We are happy to be able to provide something like this to children, and the best thing about it is that it’s free.”

The Tygart Valley United Way serves Barbour, Marion, Randolph, Taylor and Tucker counties, and has multiple partner organizations all over the region. For more information call 304-636-0516.

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