If the United Way of Northeast Mississippi finishes in the top 40 of State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist program, Born Learning Trails like this one will be installed at 12 parks in seven counties. United Way International developed Born Learning Trails to help communities close the gap on school readiness.

TUPELO • United Way of Northeast Mississippi needs help from its good neighbors to win a $25,000 grant from State Farm.

If the United Way’s proposal finishes in the top 40 in online voting for State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist program, it will be able to add 12 early childhood learning trails to parks in seven counties.

“We’re the only project selected in the whole state of Mississippi,” said Robin McKinney, United Way communications director.

As part of its Neighborhood Assist program, State Farm sought 2,000 proposals from around the country to invest in education, safety and community development. State Farm chose the 200 best projects to compete in online voting through midnight Aug. 23. The top 40 will receive $25,000 grants.

Participants can vote at The United Way program is titled Encouraging Early Childhood Development with Born Learning Trails. On the first day of voting Wednesday, the United Way entry hovered around 50 in the voting.

United Way International developed the Born Learning Trails as part of an effort to help children be better prepared for school.

The trails include different stations with activities like hopscotch, different textures to touch, colors, numbers and letters. Oxford and Hernando have added Born Learning trails to their parks.

“They encourage physical activity and learning,” McKinney said. “They also include activities for parents to take away and do at home.”

The United Way Groundswell group had been exploring how to bring the Born Learning project to Northeast Misssissippi.

“If we get the $25,000 grant, it will allow us to pay for them all at one time,” McKinney said.

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