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Born Learning: Collaborative effort helps new parents understand that learning starts at birth

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. - Staff Sgt. Corey Middleton, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, and his wife receive an information gift bag from Marcia Sampson, 4th Fighter Wing life skills outreach nurse, as part of the Born Learning Program, which provides information to parents on educating newborn children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Biondo)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. - Staff Sgt. Corey Middleton, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, and his wife receive an information gift bag from Marcia Sampson, 4th Fighter Wing life skills outreach nurse, as part of the Born Learning Program, which provides information to parents on educating newborn children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Biondo)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- With more than 5,000 active-duty Air Force and civilians located in the Wayne County area, and another 400 reservists calling the county home, Seymour Johnson has a large captive audience for many agencies trying to reach the masses.

The most recent outreach attempt came together as members of Team Seymour paired with members of the Partnership for Children of Wayne County to spread the news about a new program that is free to all families living and working in Wayne County.

The program, called Born Learning, is a national initiative that started in early 2005 to help parents, caregivers, family members and those who interact with small children understand that the learning process begins at birth.

Don Magoon, executive director of Partnership for Children of Wayne County, explained that the program is for everyone.

"The program helps educate adults about how kids learn," he said.

The Born Learning campaign has a variety of free information to help parents understand and chart a child's development.

From pamphlets that elaborate on the milestones at each age, to information on sleep and illnesses, to questionnaires to help 'test your baby smarts', the campaign offers more than 30 educational pieces that en-courage parents to work with their children from the start.

"It is unbelievable how much information they offer," said Capt. Shannon Mann, 916th Air Refueling Wing public affairs office. "I read everything I could get my hands on with my first child. It would have been nice to know that all this information was in one place back then."

Born Learning is geared from birth to five years of age, but the partnership offers programs that can help parents before the child arrives, such as free prenatal workshops.

They even get children off on the right foot for kindergarten by providing kindergarten bags with glue, scissors, crayons and other educational goodies.

Marcia Sampson, 4th Fighter Wing life skills outreach nurse, was excited to promote the Born Learning program at her briefings for expectant parents on base.

Her budget is limited and by teaming with the partnership she is able to offer more materials to expectant parents and through her home-care visits.

"Collaborating with Seymour Johnson is just smart," said Capt. Mann. "It provides our active-duty and Reserve Airmen great materials at no cost and it shows we are supporting key county programs, in turn helping Wayne County fund more programs such as this."

While the programs are free to residents of the county, they are supported with grant money. Born Learning operated with a $25,000 grant in 2006, but that number comes with the understanding that outreach must be tracked to receive future grants.

The Partnership mainly does this by tracking phone calls for materials.

Mr. Magoon explained that the partnership already has a great working relationship with the base, supporting the Child Development Center with accreditation and serving as a liaison to recycle toys and equipment donated by the base to other care centers in the county.

But sharing knowledge is possibly the most important thing they do and they want to ensure Seymour Johnson Airmen and civilians know that materials to help them in their child's lifelong learning are available by just placing a phone call.

"We want families to call us and know we are there working for them," said Mr. Magoon. "If you have a child under five, we want you to know about us and the programs we offer."
For more information call 735-3371 ext. 242 or visit: www.waynesmartstart.org.
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