IW hosts ribbon-cutting for ‘Born Learning’ trail

Published 4:31 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

Isle of Wight County Parks and Recreation held an April 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the Born Learning Trail at Riverview Park in Smithfield recently launched in partnership with United Way of South Hampton Roads and the Luter Family YMCA.

The trail aims to promote early literacy with 10 signs placed throughout the park highlighting activities for children.

“This is one of our hidden gems deep in the heart of Smithfield,” said Mike Frickanisce, the county’s director of parks and recreation.

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Riverview, the only county-owned park within the town’s limits, is located opposite James and Washington streets from the former Smithfield High School that now houses the Blackwater Regional Library’s Smithfield branch, the Luter Family YMCA and Paul D. Camp Community College’s Smithfield campus.

Renee Rountree, who represents the Smithfield-centric District 1 on Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors, said the county’s partnership with the YMCA and United Way reflected the “essence of community.”

She noted based on Virginia Department of Health data, Isle of Wight’s fastest-growing population segment is ages 18 and under. Isle of Wight is among Virginia’s top 10 fastest-growing counties, having seen its population grow roughly 5% to 6% since 2020 based on estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau and the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center.

Also present to celebrate the trail’s opening were students from Smithfield Middle School’s chorus, who performed at the ribbon-cutting.

Shauntrice Williams, Group Vice President for the YMCA, said the Born Learning Trail in Isle of Wight is the third the Y has opened in the area, following two in neighboring Suffolk. The Isle of Wight trail would be used during Kids Day on Saturday, April 20, when the Luter Family YMCA opens its doors to children regardless of membership, Williams said.