Sign me up for updates. Sign up now

Donate Take Action
United Way Blog

A Fun Way to Support Childhood Development

Did you know that 90 percent of our brains are “hard-wired” by age 5? Early learning is a critical part of childhood development—and it can happen anywhere, at any time. That’s why we developed United Way Born Learning, an initiative that gives parents and caregivers the tools, resources and opportunities they need to make the most of their children’s early years. Through Born Learning Academies® and Born Learning Trails®, United Way Worldwide offers fun and effective ways to strengthen family and community bonds.

Born Learning Trails are especially popular, turning everyday experiences into teachable moments. These multi-station, family-learning courses connect learning in the classroom to real-world activities around the community and out in nature. Introduced to nearly 1,000 communities, the trails support language, literacy and social skills development, and remind us that learning can be fun. Aligned with their education efforts, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County has introduced 15 trails in their two communities since 2013, including one that was opened on July 25 at Enderis Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The trails have been a hit with the community.

“The trails have drawings on the ground where you can help your child recognize numbers, letters and shapes,” said Joyce Wilson, who experienced the trail with her son. “You can work with kids and play with them. It makes learning fun, and it is a bonding experience, too.”

While Born Learning Trails offer families an opportunity to learn and grow together, they also serve as a way for residents and neighbors to get involved in their communities. Over the years, local United Ways have afforded companies the chance to sponsor trails or build them through workplace campaigns. It’s a great way for companies to give back to the communities in which their employees live. Just ask Anne La Paz, an employee of Oberlin Filter Company, a sponsor of the trail in Milwaukee’s Heyer Park.

“Looking back, it was amazing to see how much effort and pride went into the planning and building of the trail,” said Anne. “It gave us all satisfaction to know that we helped make Heyer Park an even more unique playground environment for young children to grow, learn and interact with their caregivers.”

Committed to helping parents and caregivers create quality learning opportunities with their children, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is just one of many local United Ways who are bringing Born Learning Trails into their community. To date, nearly 1,000 co-branded trails have been installed at parks, museums, playgrounds and company campuses, with more than 10,000 volunteers helping to make them happen. Learn how you can bring Born Learning Trails to your community.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.