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Mayor Daniel Bianchi called teaching children to read 'the greatest gift' someone can give.

Pittsfield Cuts Ribbon On 'Learning Trail' To Promote Literacy

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Mayor Daniel Bianchi cut the ribbon on the new trail on Monday morning.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Springside Park is now a little more literary.

Mayor Daniel Bianchi cut the ribbon Monday on the new Born Learning Trail, which is a series of 10 signs around the playground outlining activities for children to do.

The effort was headed by Pittsfield Promise, a collaboration of organizations working toward improving early education literacy programs.

"I feel very excited. I feel the buzz has caught on and we're doing a lot of stuff now," Berkshire United Way CEO Kristine Hazzard said of the program.

Pittsfield Promise also involved other programs, such as giving bags of books to parents of newborns, and the Berkshire United Way has granted some $600,000 into early education providers. The coalition was formed after research data showed 40 percent of Pittsfield's third-graders were not proficient in reading.

"We've got a real challenge in Pittsfield and Berkshire County," Bianchi said, adding that as a child he, too, struggled with reading and had to take remedial programs.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could take the millions of dollars we spend on remedial programs and put that into enrichment programs," he said.

The trail is yet another effort toward reaching the goal of 90 percent proficiency. The activities mix physical activity, reading and hands-on context for the children. Some of the activities include asking children to pretend to be an animal or to find a flower.

"No gift is better than the gift of reading," Bianchi said.

The trail was funded by the state Department of Early Education and Care with federal funds. The park was chosen after speaking with many early education providers, who said it would get the most use there. Berkshire Fence and the city's parks and recreation department installed the signage.

Tags: conservation & recreation,   park,   reading program,   

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