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Owen Poirier, 4, tries out the hopscotch court on the Born Learning Trail last week as his mother, Aimee Poirier, watches.
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Mayor Thomas Bernard and NBUW Executive Director Krista Collier explain the Born Learning Trail.
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North Adams' Born Learning Trail Offers Creative Activities

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Mayor Thomas Bernard, Aimee and Owen Poirier and Christa Collier cut the ribbon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Four-year-old Owen Poirier skipped along the hopscotch court doing exactly what the city is hoping children will do: get engaged with the activities along the new Born Learning Trail.

The trail that opened at Noel Field Athletic Complex last week isn't just for children, though. It's meant to be a family affair.

"This engages parents in their child's world of fun activities that also gets them ready for school while also getting exercise," said Amy Hall,  program director of the Family Center, a part of Child Care of the Berkshires.

Born Learning Trails are a United Way campaign for developing early childhood learning and parental engagement with community partners. Started in 2005, there are trails across the United States and in a number of countries.

The trails are accessible, low-impact, and have signage suggesting ways to interact with the brightly colored pathways and encourage children's curiousity.

The North Adams trail was sponsored by the Northern Berkshire United Way, one of the ways the nonprofit fundraising agency is seeking to more directly give back to community.

"Born Learning Trails are a United Way worldwide initiative and there are hundreds of them throughout the United States," said NBUW Executive Director Krista Collier. "I'm so happy we now have one in the Northern Berkshires."


Hall said she'd heard about the trails for along time and worked with Collier to get one in North Adams.

"We thought this location ideal with Child Care of the Berkshires right here so that the child care center can come out and the children experience that," she said. "Also the families that come to our Family Center as well can come to a playgroup and then come out and do our learning tail as well so it ties in very nicely."

The trail runs along the paved pathway at Joe Wolfe Field behind Child Care of the Berkshires on State Street. The path is a bit truncated now as work has started on the new splash park and basketball court, but it's long enough for nearly a dozen activities ranging from alphabet play to hopscotch to singing songs and telling stories.

"I love the location of this trail being here at Joe Wolfe Field, being part of the larger Noel Field Athletic Complex where the city's made some really intentional investment over the past couple years," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "And I love the way that this harnesses that really vital connection between literacy and activity and it's such a great place ...

"We're going to be able to harness the energy and creativety and motion of young people and tie that into learning and literacy in a way that's low impact."

MountainOne provided the financial support for the project and the city's Department of Public Works installed the signage. Volunteers from the North Adams Rotary Club and Child Care of the Berkshires worked on the stencils and the painting.

"Amy and I talked about this for a long time getting it into our community and she worked really hard with [NBUW officer manager] Patti Messina to get the layout and the stencils together," said Collier. "This is one place where children and caregivers can come in the community and actually have some places where learning can happen in a community setting."


Tags: children & families,   NBUW,   

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Mohawk Trail Woodlands, Forest Service Team Up on Conservation

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

BRPC's Tom Matuszko asks advisory board members to raise their hands as FRCOG's Executive Director Linda Dunlavy waits to speak.
CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A shared stewardship agreement signed Thursday will bring U.S. Forest Service expertise to the state while keeping hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland in state and private hands. 
 
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership will enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend on the region's natural resources such as tourism and forestry products.
 
"I am from this region, it is a part of the state that is near and dear to my heart," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides at signing held at Berkshire East Mountain Resort. "Something that is a priority to the governor is making sure that this region can continue to have economic security and opportunity for people, but also that connectedness to the landscape and that rootedness in the special places that make up Western Massachusetts."
 
Theoharides said the state is losing about 65 acres of forestland a day to development — housing, parking lots, and commercial establishments — and it's not coming back.  
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