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Brittany Carnes, Early Childhood Community Coordinator for Save the Children in Knox County, said the trail was “... a labor of love between Save the Children, the city of Barbourville, and the Tri Co Early Childhood Council.” 

One June 10, the new Save the Children Born Learning Trail officially opened at Thompson Park. On Tuesday, we took a stroll along the trail to learn more about the program. 

“This trail marks the first Born Learning Trail in Knox County. We hope it inspires more opportunities for our county to be a community learning space,” said Brittany Carnes, Early Childhood Community Coordinator for Save the Children in Knox County. Carnes has high hopes for the impact the trail will have on local children, “the installation of the Trail was a labor of love between Save the Children, the City of Barbourville, and the Tri Co Early Childhood Council and we hope that it provides family engagement for years to come.”

The learning trail runs the length of one of the park’s central walking paths. Signs along the path guide parent’s and kid’s with activities that are fun while teaching valuable lessons. Painted on the pathway are various images that go along with the lessons. A big feature of our Born Learning Trail is the artwork that correspond with each sign. Created by Matney Art, almost every sign has an interactive design next to it on the sidewalk. It makes walking the trail bright, colorful and fun,” described Carnes.

A welcome sign invites trekkers onto the learning trail where they’re greeted by a sun painted below their feet. The entryway is located near the first shelter and splash pad just a few steps from parking. Carnes said of the signage, “the signs provide a fantastic way to get kids moving and learning at the same time while encouraging family bonding.”

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The first station invites kids to “hop, toss, shake, and wiggle.” Painted here is a hopscotch court in bright colors. The sign here offers a few activities that parents can do with their children beyond hopscotch. The numbers on the court can be used to help kids with numbers while also performing some slightly more strenuous activity than simply walking.  

Animals are a theme of the second trail sign. This station asks participants to move like the creature painted along the trail, or whatever critters their parents can think of. The nature theme continues with station three. Here children and parents can take in the plant life of the park. Trees, flowers, and all the other natural things the park offers are up for exploration here.

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On the path at the next sign are various letters. Those on the trail here are asked to think of words and names that start with the letters and what sounds they make. Rhyming is another activity found at this station. After the letters come the shapes. The penultimate sign asks kids to compare and contrast the various shapes painted along the path here. Finding things in the park similar to the shapes is another activity for those that make it here.

Things get personal at the final stop along the learning trail. Parents and kids are asked to smile, laugh, hug, and chat. This sign and the others offer tips to help improve a child’s learning, such as paying attention to them to make them feel more secure. This station marks the end of the trail, although folks can always circle around and start again. 

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During the June 10 ribbon cutting ceremony, families involved with Save the Children got to take the first steps along the trail. “Through the event, I did learn how Save the Children is involved in additional ways in the community; I learned about the different resources, activities, events here in Knox County. This was also our first time out to see and read the see-say-point-read tips. As a mother, I appreciate each tip, and advice with raising children. Having these signs and artwork on the trail at the park is so much fun, & informative,” said one parent by the name of Brooke.

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