MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Ten groups came together Friday to create a fun, creative learning environment for tiny tots in Moss Point. It is an outdoor classroom, and no textbooks are required.
It's not every day that you see adults playing in the dirt, writing their ABCs, and coloring inside the lines. More than a dozen volunteers spent more than two hours Friday creating a "Born Learning Trail."
The outdoor trail winds through a section of the Moss Point River Front. It is a place where children from birth to five years old can let their creativity and imagination run free. There are ten learning stations along the trail, each with a different activity.
"There's going to be little outposts, signage that will ask questions. Jump or quack like a duck, or run like a bear, or something like that," said Richard Lucas with the United Way for Jackson and George Counties.
The organization spearheaded the project based on the concept that children are born to learn. The trail encourages parents to interact with their babies to boost language and literacy skills before they enter preschool or kindergarten.
"They learn to just loosen up and have fun and enjoy the little things. Count the birds in the trees. Count the acorns. What color is this? What color is that? Just all sorts of little things can make a big difference in a child's life," said Patrice McCullum with Moss Point Excel by 5. "Our goal is to make sure our children are happy, healthy, and ready to enter kindergarten and it takes all of us working together to do that."
The games also promote physical activity and build social and emotional connections.
"It gives them time to interact. It's quality time with just the two of them. So the adult is focused on the child. The child is focused on the adult," said Patti Fleming with Mississippi Excel by 5.
With the dropout rate in Moss Point close to 25-percent, supporters of the project believe early childhood programs can help reduce that number and help guide children along the path to success.
"If a child is learning from prenatal, then they can't help but have skills that will help them succeed. And often times children drop out because they're not feeling successful. So if you build in them this idea of yes, I can, yes, I can. I can keep learning, I can keep learning, they have this fortitude then I know I can do this," said McCullum.
The Moss Point Police Department donated $1,400 from its Drug Forfeiture Fund to support the project. There are two other Born Learning Trails, one at Beach Park in Pascagoula and the other at City Park in Lucedale.