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Born Learning Trail launched to promote early childhood learning, family fun

From the Harlan Independent School District

Although community parks are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harlan families will have a new feature at Huff Park to look forward to upon reopening.

The Huff Park Born Learning Trail has recently been completed, adding a new feature to the walking track surrounding the park. The outdoor interactive early learning trail at Huff Park will help parents, grandparents and caregivers turn park excursions into fun learning moments.

Story Miller, a junior at Harlan High School, spearheaded the Born Learning Trail as a community service project following his participation in the Rogers Scholars program. Miller joined forces with the Harlan Independent Family Resource & Youth Services Center (FRYSC), the Harlan County Public Library and the city of Harlan, to secure the trail signs, materials and labor to bring this unique element to one of Harlan’s busiest parks.

“I am glad to have completed a project that will benefit the community’s youth for years to come,” said Miller.

The Born Learning Trail is a series of learning activities that any adult can play with young children at Huff Park. Based on the latest early childhood research and approved by national early learning experts through the 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. There are 10 stations on the trail, each including activities, such as shape and letter recognition, counting, and rhyming.

“The trail promotes fun and games – important components of early childhood learning,” said Cecilia Adams, Harlan Independent FRYSC Coordinator. “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. We want to help families use everyday outings to support that learning.”

Rich Haynes, Harlan County Public Library Director, said, “We hope the Born Learning Trail will help our community to get even more kids off to the right start.”

After the parks reopen, families are encouraged to take their children to the Born Learning Trail to try out this free, fun activity that will add just another reason to visit Huff Park.

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in southern and eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.

Rogers Scholars — The Center’s flagship youth program — is open to high school sophomore students in southern and eastern Kentucky seeking to build their leadership and entrepreneurial skills. The program provides valuable leadership skills and exclusive college scholarship opportunities for young people to fulfill their potential as the region’s next generation of business and entrepreneurial leaders. For more information on the Rogers Scholars program, please visit centeryouthprograms.com or call 606-677-6000.