Books for Bikes in Berks: 30 students earn new set of wheels

Donation part of Ready.Set.READ! initiative

READING, Pa. - Thirty students in Berks County can now ride around their neighborhood in style.

Customers Bank and the United Way of Berks County teamed up Tuesday to present each child with a brand-new bicycle and helmet as part of the Ready.Set.READ! initiative's Books for Bikes challenge.

The bike and helmet serve as rewards for each child who completes 30 of the 40 days, or at least 75%, of the Ready.Set.READ! literacy and reading program.

"We are proud of all the children's dedication to learning and accomplishments," said Richard Ehst, Customers' president and chief operating officer. "Providing new bikes and helmets is an excellent way to show young students that reading comes with rewards."

The Books for Bikes program, organizers said, aims to reduce "summer slide," which occurs when students – especially those in lesser-served neighborhoods – lose up to two and half months' worth of academic skills while on summer break.

"These students will be our future community leaders, and it is important that we come together as a community to help ensure they have a solid educational foundation," said Ehst, whose bank has sponsored the program for four consecutive years.

This year's program ran from June through mid-August in the Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) Head Start classrooms in Reading's Oakbrook housing community. The program offered hands-on reading and literacy instruction.

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