While many people are giving flowers or candies for Valentine’s Day, students involved in the University of Kentucky’s Jumpstart Lexington program will be celebrating the love of reading by giving out books. Jumpstart Lexington, which seeks to promote early literacy and school preparedness, has teamed up with community partners to prepare “For the Love of Reading” goody bags for patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and nursery of UK Chandler Hospital.
The bags, which will contain a book, toboggan, rattle and information on the benefits of reading, will be distributed on Saturday, Feb. 14. Community partners, such as the Child Care Council and ABC ChildCraft, have donated all of the items for the bags. In addition, UK students and local Target store employees will be creating Valentine’s Day cards for students already involved in the Jumpstart program in Fayette County Schools, as well as for patients in the UK’s Children Hospital.
“Research has shown that children as young as newborn can benefit from having books read to them,” said Whitney Stevenson, site manager of the program. “We wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day that might brighten the families’ outlook and educate them on the importance of educational preparedness.”
Jumpstart is a nation-wide initiative that works toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. The program hires college-age students who build yearlong, one-to-one relationships that inspire children to learn, adults to teach, families to get involved and communities to progress together. UK has been a Jumpstart site since 2005. Each year, more than 130 children at Head Start, Early Start and other early learning centers in the Bluegrass benefit from the program. Katherine McCormick from the UK College of Education and Sharon Stewart from the UK College of Health Sciences head UK’s Jumpstart Lexington.