Jenkins helped unveil the newest location of Barbershop Books Tuesday morning at the International Hair Studio in Harlem. The program is designed to help connect men to boysâ€™ early reading experiences by providing childrenâ€™s books in barbershops. After introducing himself to 10 third-grade students from P.S. 208, Jenkins read Captain Underpants and fielded questions afterwards.
“It went well. The kids were interactive, which was the main point,â€ he said. â€œI wanted them to come in and interact and talk about some of the stuff they like and pinpoint some main points to let them know that education is important.â€
The Clemson, SC native said his love for reading stemmed from his grandmother, who used to read him Dr. Seussâ€™ Cat in the Hat. Alvin Irby, educator and creator of Barbershop Books, came up with the idea when he saw one of his students waiting to receive a haircut. He believes that Jenkins, being an NFL player, helps promote the mission of his initiative.
â€œTodayâ€™s event was amazing,â€ Irby said. â€œJarvis did a great job. He obviously loves reading and had fun engaging with the kids talking to them about the book. The kids had a great time. Itâ€™s a really funny story. Children love Captain Underpants so Iâ€™m really pleased how everything turned out. Itâ€™s great to see the Jets team and Jarvis really supporting this program.â€
Irbyâ€™s program will expand to 12 more cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Newark and Baltimore, and Jenkins thinks this is just the beginning.
â€œMe and my agency did some research, and I told them once I got here that I wanted to interact with the youth and attack illiteracy,â€ he said. â€œI wanted to let them know that thereâ€™s other stuff than iPads, PlayStation and Xbox and actually get them some sense of learning outside of school. We pinpointed Barbershop Books and we have a couple locations weâ€™re going to get to, but we started with this one.â€
To close the event, Jenkins signed autographs and handed out Jets apparel including hats, wristbands, keychains and stickers.
â€œIt was a look of excitement, a look of awe, a look of this is really amazing,â€ Irby said about the kidsâ€™ facial expressions. â€œIâ€™m sure theyâ€™re going to go back to their school and classes with all their Jets gear and everybody is going to be really jealous that they didnâ€™t have a chance to come here and be a part of this experience.â€