United Way Born Learning Trail added to Jay park


  • July 7, 2020
  • /   Shannon Nickinson
  • /   early-learning
Born Learning Trail in Jay park
Learning is a lifelong journey, one that begins with the first breath drawn.

Our children learn every day in all ways from us, and making the world around them become a living classroom is the greatest gift an adult can give a child.

Our colleagues at United Way of West Florida have been supporters of this philosophy for years, and they’ve recently added a new chapter to that work, thanks to a grant from International paper Foundation.

On July 1, 2020, the first of five Born Learning Trails was installed in our community. This one is a new addition to the recently renovated Bray-Hendricks Park in Jay. This Born Learning Trail is made possible through the partnership of Early Learning Coalition of Santa Rosa County, International Paper, the town of Jay, and United Way of West Florida.  

“The Town of Jay is grateful for the United Way of West Florida selecting the Bray-Hendricks Park to create a Born Learning Trail in northern Santa Rosa County,” said Eric Seib, operations manager, the town of Jay. “The interactive trail will enhance the existing walking trail and upgraded playground for families in Jay and the surrounding communities to enjoy.”

Born Learning Trails have been a United Way Worldwide initiative since 200. These trails are a series of 10 interactive signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. It helps parents, caregivers, and communities create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or while playing at a park.  

“We are pleased to support United Way of West Florida in their efforts to make a difference,” said Whitney Fike, communications manager, International Paper. “Supporting great community projects like the Born Learning Trail are an investment in our family, friends and neighbors.”   

The next trail is set for the Town of Century, with three more trails slated to come this year in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.  

Born Learning Trails fit beautifully into the Make Play Smart component of Studer Community Institute’s Early Learning City concept. Outdoor spaces can and ought to be spaces that strengthen our children’s bodies and minds. 

More than that, it shows the commitment of our community as a whole to the well-being of our children and families. It’s an investment we -- the adults in the room -- know pays dividends. 

And it’s an investment that clearly is needed in our community. The Zero to 3 Foundation’s “State of Babies” yearbook shows that Florida is a hard place to be a young child. And as one of the poorest metropolitan areas in that state, our children are part of that struggle. 

The SCI Community Dashboard tracks metrics that show families in our community struggle to pay for childcare, housing costs and food. Only 47 percent of our children are ready for kindergarten. 

We cannot afford to wait any longer for someone else to fix this.

It is time we fixed it ourselves.