New interactive trail in Yankton park encourages families to learn together Original

YANKTON, S.D. (KELO)– Westside Park in Yankton has a new trail, geared toward families learning and spending time together.

The Born Learning Trail is a partnership between Yankton Parks, Recreation and City Events Department, United Way and Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton and Yankton Area Arts and provides an interactive learning experience for kids and adults through signs, artwork and soon there will be playground equipment and a community book shelf.

Todd Larson, Director of Parks, Recreation and City Events in Yankton said the idea was brought to them a few years ago by the United Way to add a Born Learning Trail to one of their city parks and decided that it would be a good fit for the city’s Westside Park.

With help from a 15,000 grant from AARP, it made the trail a reality.

It is an intergenerational trail, Larson says consisting of ten signs, each having educational information and a different activity for them to do, paired with sidewalk art. The park will be adding playground pieces that correspond with some of the signs, hopefully by the beginning of June.

“What the whole purpose of it is to let parents, caretakers, grandparents know that for kids learning happens all the time,” Larson said.

United Way has Born Learning trails nationally, and they provide the parks with the kits and signs for each station, Larson says. The signs are in both English and Spanish and offer learning and discussion elements.

The topics discussed include trees, bugs, birds and other wildlife, Larson says, as well and some stations that teach about shapes, colors, numbers and letters.

“More importantly, that it’s learning that’s interactive with the adult that is with the child and that is really a key,” Larson said.

Once the city got the signs, they worked with artists to help make the trail more visual.

The artwork was created by local artists through Yankton Area Arts, Larson said. They will also be adding a community book shelf soon, which is created out of old filing cabinets and decorated to look like a city skyline.

“That intergenerational, again parents, grandparents, activity that you can do; have them come to the park is just so important to have that activity,” Larson said.

Larson says through this trail, they are hoping that families come together and enjoy the park and learn together. They also want people to be active by walking in the city park.

This Born Learning trail will be finished this year, and then the city may add more of these trails to other city parks, Larson says.

The park will also be doing more renovations, including a new sidewalk on the south end of the park and some additional shelters.

The trail system is available year-round, Larson says, and they do snow removal and well as keep the parks lit-up.

“We look forward to this year and seeing all the people out enjoying this new amenity in our park,” Larson said.

On Saturday, May 22, there will be a grand opening and ribbon cutting for the trail. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Westside Park and will consist of a hotdog feed and bingo card activity where participants will be entered into a raffle drawing.

At noon, the Chamber of Commerce ambassadors will be at the event to give speeches, as well as representatives from Yankton Parks, Recreation and City Events Department, United Way and Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton and Yankton Area Arts.

There will also be artists at each of the stations to talk about the artwork and how it was designed. Handouts will also be provided about summer activities happening in the city this year.

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