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United Way launches 'Born Learning' campaign

WILLMAR -- United Way of Kandiyohi County and its women's philanthropy initiative are kicking off a public engagement campaign this week called "Born Learning."

The campaign is part of an effort by Empower, the women's philanthropy initiative, to increase kindergarten readiness to 80 percent of all children in Kandiyohi County by 2012.

The Born Learning campaign uses everyday opportunities -- doing laundry, preparing meals, shopping for groceries -- to help parents, caregivers and communities provide young children with learning experiences that prepare them for school.

It's important for children to start learning early, said Stacey Roberts, executive director of the United Way of Kandiyohi County.

"We know that quality learning in the first few years is a strong foundation for school success," she said.

Research has found that investment in early learning leads to reduced crime rates, fewer teen pregnancies, a higher high school graduation rate and a greater likelihood of individual success in school and life, she said.

Many parents and caregivers, however, don't know what they can do to help, or don't feel they have the time, according to survey information gathered by United Way of America.

Born Learning is designed to be simple and easy to incorporate into everyday activities -- for instance, asking a child to find a head of broccoli at the grocery store, name the color of broccoli and name other vegetables that are green.

Starting this week, materials for Born Learning will become available at local doctors' offices, dental clinics, Early Childhood and Family Education Centers and Kandiyohi County Public Health.

Born Learning "trails" are already in place at Wal-Mart, Cash Wise, Cub Foods, Jahnke's and The Big Store.

Born Learning is locally sponsored by the United Way of Kandiyohi County and Empower: Women United in Philanthropy. Nationally, Born Learning is sponsored by United Way, the Ad Council and Civitas.

Parents who would like Born Learning materials or information can call the United Way at 235-1050 or go online at or