Pleasantville's United Way Born Learning Trail Gets an Upgrade

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The United Way Born Learning Trail on Park Avenue in Pleasantville first appeared about a decade ago, but after years of wear and tear, officials felt it was time for a complete refresh.

On Thursday, August 2nd, city officials, volunteers, and children from the Pleasantville Parks and Recreation Summer Camp came together to cut the handmade ribbon for the newest Born Learning Trail in the city.

The original trail was located right next to the baseball field and led to a dead end. Now the new trail is taking its young learners right up to the playground.

“After 10 years, the signs get faded from the sun [and] the posts that are holding the signs are a little worn," said John Emge, vice president and regional executive director at United Way GPSNJ. "We really want to keep this going. It’s really a great program [and] with a little bit of muscle and a little bit of financial support, we were able to make that happen.”

United Way's Born Learning Trails can be found throughout Atlantic and Cape May counties. They provide children the opportunity for outdoor learning and help them build skills from every day occurrences.

“It is a lot of fun to see these fresh young faces knowing that there’s fresh young minds in there," said Emge. "And United Way and Women United and all those volunteers that have made this happen are helping to help those minds progress." 

“The children are our future," said Arnold Roberts III, volunteer with Timberland, Atlantic City. "I know it sounds kind of cliché, but they are and once you get to a certain age it’s sort of your responsibility to give back, or at least do your part.”

Roberts, along with other volunteers from the Atlantic City Timberland store, came out to help paint most of the sidewalk.

Each station along the trail has an activity, and the goal is for the child to work through each activity with the help of their parent or guardian.

They get the chance to learn about things like colors, shapes, and sizes. It’s also an opportunity to use everyday moments as opportunities for the brain to develop.

"Parents are our first teachers, so they really gotta take that opportunity and step up to the task," said Emge.

The crowd favorite during the grand opening seemed to be the hopscotch. Officials hope the trail's popularity will help keep kids active.

“I think we’re behind a little bit," said Ricky Cistrunk, city councilman and chairman for the Pleasantville Recreation Committee. "Because you see hopscotch and when you see a child playing hopscotch and they’re looking like they're playing it for the first time - too many gamers out here." 

United Way currently has seven other trails in Atlantic and Cape May counties, but are looking to add more throughout South Jersey in the near future.


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