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Lifelong learning focus of leadership project
Park signs tout interactive ideas
Triplets, from left, Liam, Evie and Maighen Parke, 6, follow "Born Learning Trail" instructions to make each other laugh at Coal Mountain Park. - photo by Autumn McBride

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As any parent knows, finding educational ways to entertain young children can sometimes be a challenge.

But members of this year’s Leadership Forsyth class hope to make that a little easier.

The organization, which provides community information and leadership training to a new class each year, encourages each group of graduates to develop a class project that will leave a legacy in the community.

The Leadership Forsyth class of 2011 chose to help the United Way of Forsyth County with a program called Born Learning Trails.

Ruben Boling, a member of the class, said the program features a series of signs with interactive ideas for young children.

The signs have been placed along trails in seven of Forsyth County’s parks -- Central, Coal Mountain, Fowler, Midway, Sawnee Mountain, Sharon Springs and Windermere.

Boling said the idea came from classmate Leigh Crow, who works at the local United Way.

“The mission of the project is to encourage life-long learning,” Boling said.

He said the signs feature different learning activities that parents can do with their young children.

One of the signs at Coal Mountain Park calls for children and parents to stand together inside colored circles, facing one another and make each other laugh.

Others call for activities such as hopscotch and observing nature.

As part of the project, Boling said class members secured sponsorships from people and businesses to buy the signs, which are created and sold through United Way.

Members also installed them and painted trails with the corresponding activities.

Linda Roberts, a Leadership Forsyth board member, called the project “one of the best ever” completed.

“The class did a great job of getting sponsorships,” she said. "We’re all really excited about this project because it will help families interact together while on the trails."

A ribbon cutting and dedication for the signs at Fowler Park is set for 11 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The signs there are at the trail head behind the playground.

Since it began in 1989, Leadership Forsyth has graduated more than 600 community leaders, most of whom have gone on to volunteer with various community civic and service organizations.

Some other class projects have included the establishment of Big Brothers Big Sisters, now known as Mentor Me North Georgia, a universally accessible tree house on Sawnee Mountain and Keeping Kids Safe educational DVD program for schools and libraries.

Leadership Forsyth is recruiting for the class of 2012.

Each class is typically between 20 and 35 students, who commit to the year-long program, which offers a retreat, one all-day class session each month and a graduation ceremony.

An application for next year’s class can be found on the organization’s Web site.