They Know They Can

Jumpstart, a national non-profit organization that promotes literacy, set a Guinness World Record of the “largest reading experience” last month.

Jumpstart, along with its sponsors, American Eagle Outfitters, Pearson and Starbucks, held Read for the Record! on Aug. 24 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Participants included children, parents and St. John’s students and educators, who read The Little Engine that Could.

At Rockefeller Center, there were special appearances made by actors, authors, illustrators and even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NBC’s Today co-host Matt Lauer.
According to a press release issued by Jumpstart, 104,000 children read the book with adults on Aug. 24. Additionally, over 1,000 local events took place during that time.

Jumpstart, established in 1993, focuses on early education, with a goal to promote “language, literacy and social skills children need to thrive,” according to the organization’s Web site.

Jumpstart also has a division of its program at St. John’s, in association with the School of Education, which helped achieve the world record.

Margaret Nicolosi, site manager of Jumpstart at St. John’s, said the students involved in the work-study program are given a 300-hour service contract to work with school-aged children and receive a $1,000 stipend for their involvement.

“About 40 to 50 percent of Jumpstart participants (at St. John’s) are education majors, but they don’t have to be,” Nicolosi said. “Students served by Jumpstart get an average of 25 hours of one-on-one reading time, while average students received over 1,700 hours.”

Jumpstart participants and volunteers also engage in these programs with pre-schools surrounding St. John’s.

Ernest Coaxum, a junior Government and Politics major, represented Jumpstart for Young Children, Inc. and St. John’s University in Washington, D.C. at a conference hosted by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The conference discussed the impact of Jumpstart on them individually, on individual children, and on the national level.

Recently, several Jumpstart participants of the University attended a conference for the program in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.

“Last year, we had approximately 39 students involved in the one-on-one reading program,” Nicolosi said. “This year, there are 75 Corps students.”

A mutually rewarding program, Jumpstart teaches children to believe in them selves and provides the opportunity to give back to the local community.