As a comminity leader and role model to young children, I was honored to participate in Jumpstart's Read for the Record Campaign. Jumpstart is a national nonprofit organization that engages preschool children from low-income communities in an intensive early education program. Jumpstart trains adult mentors, primarily college students, to work in yearlong, one-to-one relationships with at-risk children to improve their language, literacy, and social skills. Since 1993, thousands of Jumpstart mentors have helped more than 50,000 children from low-income communities around the country enter school ready to learn at grade level.
Jumpstart's Read for the Record is a national campaign designed to encourage hundreds of thousands of children and adults from across the country to read the same book on the same day.The goal of Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign is to raise public awareness about significant disparities in early education.
Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign included major events in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, New York, and San Francisco. Among the hundreds of thousands reading across the nation were First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actresses Mariska Hargitay and Gabrielle Union, Grammy Award-winners LL Cool J and Wyclef Jean, best-selling author Frank McCourt and several Members of Congress. Each read with a group of children, joining the thousands around the country demonstrating their support for Jumpstart and early education.
The campaign created the world's largest "shared reading experience" as children and adults read this year's official campaign book, The Story of Ferdinand, written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, published by Penguin Young Readers Group. More than 1,900 reading events took place across the country. Along the record-breaking shared reading experience, the campaign raised more than $1 million through donations and sales of a special-edition campaign book, with proceeds going directly to Jumpstart to support its early education programs for at-risk children in communities across the nation. Additionally, more than 100,000 copies of the official campaign book were donated to children in low-income communities.
I, along with other commuity leaders from the Houston area, including Barbara Turner (Houston Comets), Frank Billingsley, Wendy Corona, and Frank McIlvoy(Channel 2 News) were delighted to be able to read this great story to the students from St. Johns School (Pre-K to Kindergarten). The kids loved the story of Ferdinand the bull. Alongside me was the Houston Texans' Mascot, "TORO." He sat with the kids as I read and they were really able to understand and relate the story to him.
I am excited to know the record was broken this year and hope to participate again next year. I have become a major supporter of this program and will continue to help kids the best I can. I believe "To read is to succeed" and that's exactly what this program has helped kids do!