If you’re grocery shopping in Philadelphia over the next year you might run into a cherubic cartoon character named A.J.
Though his wide smile and trendy haircut impart a sense of whimsy, A.J. has a serious task. He wants to transform your daily supermarket trip into a learning laboratory.
A.J. is the face of “Talk It Up,” a pilot project aimed at inspiring interaction among parents and kids. At strategically placed sites across 10 grocery stores in Philadelphia, A.J. appears on small, laminated signs and prompts shoppers to play a quick game.
One example: In the produce section of a Southwest Philadelphia ShopRite, A.J. asks kids to pick a nearby product, guess its weight, and then use the scale below the sign to check the accuracy of their estimate.
Based on research that suggests parent-child interactions boost early learning, “Talk It Up” hopes to inspire a paradigm shift in how adults think about educating their young ones.
Ideas like this have been tried in small batches, but the powers behind “Talk It Up” want to test this concept on a larger scale. By 2019, the signs will hang in 30 Philadelphia grocery stores. And if research proves the method effective, it could grow quickly after that since the initiative doesn’t require much money.
To read more of Avi Wolfman-Arent's article, please click here.