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Jump Start Introduces Whitehead to a New Level of Responsibility

Date: 07/16/2018

Several teenagers wearing sky blue t-shirts with black lettering that says: I AM Jump Start #2018, talked, laughed, or chilled-out near an entrance of McCain Mall.

The 26 Jump Start students swarm Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) Transition Coordinator LaTasha Mays. She’s surrounded by the students brimming with excitement as she handed each one a white envelope containing a small stipend.                                 

“I’m going down there,” one student shouts. “Y’all should come with me!”

“Can I use the money to get a haircut?” another teen asks Mays.

DSB partners with the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASBVI) to present the Jump Start program, which gives students ages 16 to high school graduation, a chance to get a part-time summer job and an opportunity to participate in recreational and educational activities.

One of this year’s Jump Start students was Kennedy Whitehead, a junior at ASBVI.

“Something I enjoyed about Jump Start, is being around great people,” she said. “I also enjoyed learning important things such as banking skills, how to properly work, to why you need to have respect for people and get along with others.” 

While at the mall, the task for Whitehead and her Jump Start colleagues was to purchase job interview appropriate clothing, within a budget.

“I’d never shopped on a budget before. I learned a lesson,” Whitehead said. “For example, I picked up a shirt I liked. I then looked at the price, and knew it wouldn’t be smart for me to buy it.”     

“Getting job interview proper clothes was tough,” she said. “I got frustrated. I knew I couldn’t look casual.”

“We want our kids prepared to do well in a job interview when they graduate,” Mays said. “I explained to them the clothes that are acceptable for a job interview. When I was their age, I didn’t have a program like Jump Start teaching me these things. So it meant a lot to me.”    

After 45 minutes of searching and going in and out of a Dillard’s fitting room, Whitehead once again re-appeared wearing a black dress with a white stripe on the sides and a matching jacket.

She stood quiet, smiling, looking at her family and the store employee – waiting for their opinions.    

Eventually, Whitehead sheepishly said, “Is this OK?”

They all approved, it was mission accomplished. It was another lesson learned for Whitehead.    

“I’d highly recommend Jump Start to anybody,” she said.

For more information about Jump Start go to https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dsb/programs-services.

Arkansas Department of Human Services
Arkansas Department of Human Services

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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