JewelRide promotes literacy and physical activity with reading challenge

In the hopes of getting kids excited about reading and physical activity, JewelRide is collaborating with the Edwardsville Public Library to host the Books for Bikes summer reading challenge.  


Tapiwa Mupereki, co-founder and CEO of JewelRide, a local nonemergency medical transportation business supported by the Small Business Development Center, said as a community business, they have a responsibility to commit to the betterment of their community. He said literacy is important to him because while growing up in a rural village, he was raised by a single mother who did not receive an education.  


"She couldn't have any professional jobs or any good opportunities in this society, so she was just doing any jobs that she could do, like washing people's clothes or cleaning houses. She realized that those people who had been to school or who were reading books had better lives and so she was really, really an inspiration to me,” Mupereki said. “Just embracing the idea of reading books so I [could] embrace the idea that books are really critical.” 


Mupereki is a pharmacist and his wife is a pediatrician, which he said inspired the idea for JewelRide. He said about 5 million people in the U.S. miss medical appointments due to not having access to transportation, which is a failure by the healthcare system. He said their occupations also inspired the idea for the reading challenge.


"[My wife is] very much into promoting literacy programs and also promoting healthy lifestyles and even me as a pharmacist, we also promote that; [we] want people to lead healthy lifestyles,” Mupereki said.


Megan Prueter, head librarian of youth services, said the surface goal of the challenge is for children to read up to 20 books, each book being an entry for a bike. She said children are not required to read books at a certain reading level, because as a librarian, she just wants to see kids read.  


"Really the goal with having this challenge, it's just to get kids excited about reading during the summer and providing some incentives for them to want to read, and possibly win a bike,” Prueter said.  


Prueter said bikes make a good incentive because they provide a sort of freedom to children.  


"One of those childhood experiences like learning how to ride a bike, riding a bike around our neighborhood … just being able to have that kind of freedom to have your own mode of transportation sounds very exciting to me,” Prueter said.  


Jo Ann Di Maggio May, director of the Small Business Development Center, said the SBDC supports JewelRide with things such as marketing, social media, business plan development and HR support. She said as supporters of JewelRide, they’ve been promoting the reading challenge by writing and posting an article about it.   


"Giving away these bikes is going to ensure that they stay active, and it's a win-win. He is able to get JewelRide’s name out there and do a lot of good for the youth here in Edwardsville,” Di Maggio May said.  


Di Maggio May said she is happy to see all of the hard work that Mupereki and his wife have put into the company.  


"They're very dedicated to their employees and the community and it just really shows through this partnership with the public library,” Di Maggio May said.  


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