Jacob Blumenstein opens up about his struggles with dyslexia and creating his own non-profit for kids with learning disabilities.
Photos courtesy of Jacob Blumenstein
Jacob Blumenstein’s educational path hasn’t always been the easiest. At a young age, he struggled with dyslexia, which caused challenges in the classroom.
“Growing up, I struggled heavily in school because I couldn’t read,” Blumenstein says. “My teachers didn’t understand dyslexia and I didn’t even know I had dyslexia until I was diagnosed in fifth grade.”
With the help of his parents, Carol and Richard, and resources provided by his school, Blumenstein was able to realize his full potential.
“In the beginning, I felt humiliated and stupid,” Blumenstein says. “But as I grew up and learned how to take control of my dyslexia, I realized that there were so many things that I could excel at besides reading.”
Blumenstein discovered that there were many students who were unaware of their learning disabilities or didn’t have the same support system.
So, in 2017 with the help of his siblings, Alana and Reuben, Blumenstein launched a free educational non-profit, KidsRead2Kids. This initiative was designed to help children with learning disabilities learn to read.
“We use YouTube videos where we read abridged classic novels and decodable books chapter by chapter so anyone can follow along at their own pace,” Blumenstein says. “Since I was ashamed for being different, I wanted to be very open about my dyslexia on our website because I wanted our readers and listeners to know that they are not alone.”
In addition to running KidsRead2Kids, Blumenstein attended the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) conference in Portland, Oregon this year and was awarded the role of Youth and Young Adult Advocate Program President.
Originally, Blumenstein applied for the Remy Johnson Certificate of Merit because he felt that the award description represented himself, because he does not make excuses due to his dyslexia and doesn’t let it define who he is.
Blumenstein received a call from the CEO of the IDA, Sonja Banks, who had a different position in mind.
“Sonja Banks called me after the results came in,” Blumenstein says. “She was inspired by my story and wanted to offer me the position as president for the Youth and Young Adult Advocate Program that she was creating.”
Blumenstein accepted the role as president at the IDA Annual Conference in November. In this role, he is responsible for program development and educating students, parents and teachers about dyslexia.
“I have two goals for this position: my first goal is to spread my message of empowerment and to change the narrative of dyslexia,” Blumenstein says. “The second part revolves around us acting as a consultant group to different businesses to help make technology easier for dyslexics.”
Blumenstein also gave a speech at the IDA annual conference where he shared his story about living with dyslexia.
“I may always have to work harder, but that’s not such a bad thing,” Blumenstein says. “In fact, working harder has pushed me to be better and become a more compassionate person. At the end of the day, my dyslexia is a part of who I am and I wouldn’t be me without it.”
Get to know more about Jacob Blumenstein:
- Favorite food: My sliders that I make.
- Favorite band: The Beatles or Green Day
- Favorite color: Blue
- Favorite movie: Spider Man
- Favorite TV show or Netflix series: The Office
- Favorite book: “Harry Potter” but my favorite in the series is book six — “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
- Somewhere you want to visit and why: Germany because I want to be a part of the March of the Living.
- Best advice you have received: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”
- Biggest supporter: My mom
- Synagogue you attend: Congregation Shir Tikvah
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