While biking around the West Side, a few days ago, I stopped by the Born Learning Trail at 161 Vermont Street, home of West Side Community Services. Although the trail was completed in 2017, it was the first time that I got to explore all of the various educational elements, of which there are many. What I especially love about this trail is that it is open to everyone, at all times. The trail wraps along the block, inviting families to partake in the various interactive activities. The trail is also multilingual, meaning that a number of different cultures can participate in the activities.
It all starts with an introduction to the trail, and what people can expect. From there, a number of instructional signs are planted, each spelling out learning assignments for the passersby. For example, one of the signs asks children to point to letters that they see on the ground, and identify them. Then they are prompted to come up with words that begin with those letters. Another sign asks parents to pay attention to what their children are observing. The sign prompts the parent to ask a child what he or she sees, and engage further with the child on the subject. How cool is that?
Not only does the Born Learning Trail get kids to interact with the various built elements, like the wonderful, circular Little Free Library (see image above), it gets them to learn about the natural environment, which is more important than ever. It teaches them about the flowers and the bees, and even encourages them to exercise in fun ways. The signs encourage families to talk, and even hold hands, smile, laugh, and sing.
I am sold on the importance of the Born Learning Trail. This is the first trail of this nature to pop up on the West Side. I will be paying a visit to another that was recently unveiled. Stay tuned.
West Side Community Services | 161 Vermont Street | Buffalo, New York 14213