COVID-19: Reading, PA Youth Program Changes Plans, Still Offers Mentorship

Reading High School graduate Tillman Sims began TLC Fore Reading five years ago with the goal of shaping the minds of young men and women from all walks of life. Using a shared interest in golf as a starting point, Sims’ program introduces inner city students to a larger world outside their neighborhoods.

“I was kind of just doing golf tournaments, golf events, and golf leagues here and there,” Sims said. “We had some young kids come up to us asking how they can learn more about this.”

The foundation began as a caddie mentorship program to teach kids about the game of golf while also fostering mentorship relationships. The program includes an education series, with Sims often spending Sunday afternoons taking kids to businesses to learn about possible careers and the education they’d need to pursue those careers.

With the coronavirus closing many workplaces, Sims and TLC Fore have revamped the education series and began taking kids to historical sites around Berks County. On Sunday, July 12, he took the group to Nicholas Stoltzfus Homestead for a brief history lesson.

While at the homestead, guest speakers spoke with the group about their careers and life directions, stressing the importance of positive role models. Students then played leadership games and participated in team building activities.

“I want them to know that they don’t have to walk alone in life,” Sims said. “There’s people there that want to help you and it doesn’t always have to just be your parents.”

TLC Fore Reading continues its education series on Sunday, July 19, with a bridging the gap event, where kids in the program will meet with local and state law enforcement officers.

Our special reporting on COVID-19 may focus on communities outside Philadelphia because many of our student journalists are now temporarily located outside of the city. Instead, our reporters will cover how the coronavirus is impacting their own communities from across the country and around the world. We will return to hyperlocal coverage of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods as soon as possible.

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