PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - United Way volunteers are transforming a simple sidewalk at Pascagoula's Beach Park into a world of imagination.
"This is truly a unique opportunity. It's truly unique. There's nothing like it," explains Patrice McCullum, the certification manager for Excel by 5 in Moss Point.
South Mississippi's first "Born Learning Trail" is based on the concept that we all come into this world ready to learn. The mission of the United Way project is to help parents understand that everyday moments, can be teaching moments.
McCullum offers this example: "So when you're in the park with your child, you can look at things. If you see your child looking up at a tree, and you say, 'Well, what do you see?' And the child will say, 'I see a bird.' That may be your opportunity to say, 'Well, what color is that bird?'
"Everything is a learning experience," agrees Bryce Wiggins, chair of Pascagoula's Excel by 5 Coalition. "If you're walking down the path it's a learning experience. If you're playing in the splash pad it's a learning experience."
The learning trail follows Pascagoula's new Katrina trail, nestled into beautiful Beach Park, which is already a popular spot for kids. Signs perched along the path offer new activities encouraging parents to hop, toss, shake and wiggle across a hopscotch board with their little ones, or even just describe and compare shapes.
McCullum says, "All of those things are building vocabulary and building your child's confidence and increases that child's knowledge all at the same time."
"And all the studies show, statistics show that if the parents are engaged, then the children are going to learn better and have a better life," explains Wiggins.
So, the hope is that parents will have fun using the new tools to help guide their children down a path to success.
The Born Learning trail at Pascagoula's Beach Park is now open. It's geared for children five and under because that's the prime time for brain development.
There are plans to bring another "Born Learning Trail" to Jackson or George County later this year.
©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.