Jumpstart team member and Pepperdine Graphic social media assistant Christian Parham greets children and hands out Lakeshore bags at the Jumpstart for a Day Event at Reseda Park March 26. After interacting with over a dozen interactive learning tables, the children had plenty of crafts and art creations to bring home. Photos by Christina Buravtsova
The Pepperdine Jumpstart Program joined together March 26 to celebrate the children, families and teachers of all the preschools they work with. The day was filled with smiles, cheers and learning as children and their families engaged with immersive learning booths and reconnected with Jumpstart team members.
Jumpstart held its community involvement event called Jumpstart for a Day at Reseda Park. Jumpstart Site Manager and Coordinator Stacy Rouse said the event encapsulated Jumpstart’s mission. By bringing Pepperdine and the greater Los Angeles area together through interactive learning activities, the event encouraged community building and fostered a fun, safe learning environment for children.
“It’s such a good day,” Rouse said. “This is really who we want to be all the time and what we hope the atmosphere is like in the classroom where it’s all through play and people don’t know they’re learning.”
Jumpstart Program Background
Pepperdine Jumpstart Program comprises nearly 100 students every year, making it one of the largest Corps in the nation, according to its website. The program aims to reduce the achievement gap between children in low-income communities versus those in more affluent communities.
“This is really a place to say learning is for everyone, community is for everyone, and everyone belongs in these spaces,” Rouse said.
Rouse said the program sends teams of students to classrooms in LA twice a week to foster literacy and develop children’s social-emotional vocabulary.
Jumpstart for a Day Event Attendees
The Jumpstart for a Day event took nearly a year of planning. Over 450 attendees from Jumpstart’s partner classrooms showed up, along with the Los Angeles Public Library and Panda Express, who donated food for the event, wrote Tess Marme, Professional Development & Campus Partnerships manager and Jumpstart Campus Champion, in a March 27 email to the Graphic.
Graphics by Christina Buravtsova
Engaging Learning Activities
Rouse said the 62 Jumpstart members in attendance — with the help of five Hub for Spiritual Life volunteers — hosted more than a dozen different tables. The table activities ranged from spin art, making pinecone bird feeders and sun catchers, planting plants, constructing rockets and much more.
Preschool teacher Coralia Ramirez said she appreciated the creative ways Jumpstart engaged students and hopes to emulate this type of learning in her classroom.
“It’s very nice to see that there are programs that have fun activities for the kids,” Ramirez said. “As a teacher it gives me ideas and probably what to do at school. Every activity that I like, I take a picture of.”
Support of Pepperdine Student Groups
Several Pepperdine student groups came out to support the event. Men’s Basketball had a booth where they played basketball with kids and helped them score dunks on a mini hoop. The Art Club had a face-painting booth. The Step Team, RnD Dance and Beatboxing Club president all showcased individual performances.
“Having the different types of clubs come out and help us support what we do for Jumpstart is really cool,” senior Jumpstart Intern Carrera said.
Benefit for Children and Parents
Many of the Jumpstart parents in attendance, like Rosa Bueno, said they were grateful their kids had the chance to meet and engage with other kids in a fun learning environment.
“I thought it was a really good opportunity for my kids to interact with other kids,” Bueno said. “Especially after a pandemic, they didn’t have a chance to socialize as much.”
Bueno said she also appreciates how the event provided endless opportunities for the kids to learn and discover new things in a supportive and loving environment.
For many Jumpstart members, this event was the first time they had a chance to meet the parents of the kids they teach. Senior and former Jumpstart team leader Ray Bernal said the event helped him see the impact his work as a Jumpstart member had on both the children and their families.
The event allows parents to see the multitude of interesting and interactive ways they can develop their child’s literacy outside the classroom, Bernal said.
“A big part of the whole development of literacy also takes place in the home as well,” Bernal said. “We have a big event with a lot of fun activities and the parents get to see all this. I think it shows the parents you can have fun and learn and develop your literacy at the same time.”
Kaitlyn Ishii, senior Jumpstart program assistant for assessment and curriculum development, said she wants to be a teacher in the future and that it takes both the efforts of the teachers and parents to give young students an optimal learning environment.
“It’s really important to have all the people in the classroom and then all the parents work together to make the best educational experience for the children,” Ishii said.
Importance of In-Person Interaction for the Children
Jumpstart team members, like first-year Lexington Russel, said some of their favorite moments from the event were interacting with the kids and guiding them through the various activities.
“Being able to see their smiles and their eyes and to be able to hear their responses and be able to express joy to them is really, really awesome,” Russell said.
Preschool teacher Mary Melchor said the connections made between Pepperdine Jumpstart students and preschool students are vital to the children’s social-emotional development after the pandemic and should be cultivated for years to come.
The Jumpstart event has been crucial to reviving the in-person interactions between teachers, parents, children and the Jumpstart community after years of being apart and socially distanced, Russell said.
“I feel like having this community event has been such a healing experience,” Russell said. “For kids to be able to actually be outside and to have community and to be able to have interactions with people is so important.”
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