The purpose of the Jumpstart program is to promote early literacy by serving economically disadvantaged children. It does so by conducting reading activities with children at early childhood education centers in the San Fernando Valley.
“We wanted to bring an extension of the classroom to the rest of the community with this event,” said Danielle Watson, Jumpstart program coordinator.
Booths scattered throughout the preschool held activities related to books that volunteers have previously read to children.
“I feel like every year this progresses into something better,” said Mel Abebe, a child development major and Jumpstart volunteer who has participated in this event twice. “Being part of Jumpstart has been a great experience for me and helped me see if this is something I want to do. And after one semester of working with the program, I found I really do enjoy working with kids.”
Martha Perez, a teacher at Corazon Headstart in North Hollywood, has volunteered at this event for three years.
“I see the difference Jumpstart has on my students,” she said. “Every year Jumpstart for a Day gets better. There are more activities, more sponsors, and it’s just getting better.”
Among visitors on Saturday’s was Jaime Rodriguez, field organizer under councilmember Richard Alarcon of the 7th district, who was supportive of the event.
“Somebody had a quote that said ‘for every dollar we invest in a child, we get sevenfold over.’ So the work Jumpstart does is important – they’re trying to ‘jumpstart’ a child’s education,” he said.
Other activities on Saturday’s event included a petting zoo (where children got to ride horses), and performances by Taiko drummers and balloon storyteller Annie Banannie.
Although she is typically busy on Saturdays, Banannie said the Jumpstart mission to promote literacy was something she lives for.
“This is where it starts, and kids are obsessed with balloons. So why not take that thing they love and couple it with something they might have a hard time with (reading) and show them the fun?”
Free popcorn, cotton candy and food were given to families and children who attended and participated in booth activities.
Sandwiches were provided by Volunteers of America, a non-profit organization that helps those in need, and Jumpstart raised funds for other free items given away that day.
“We think about our demographics,” Watson said. “We’re serving low-income families so if we invite them to something like this we want to make sure that it’s free.”