Andrew Dys

Can reading be as cool as sports and entertainment?

Members of a Rock Hill church are leading an effort to collect books and give them out to children in York, Chester and Lancaster counties this summer.
Members of a Rock Hill church are leading an effort to collect books and give them out to children in York, Chester and Lancaster counties this summer. Herald file

A world gone awry came into focus at a Chester school this past year, when substitute teacher and pastor C.T. Kirk asked students what they wanted to be when they grew up.

The students mainly wanted to be rich sports stars, singers, actors.

Then one kid said, “I might as well be a drug dealer – that’s all I see where I live.”

“We have all these kids who think they can get rich, have a great life, if they play pro sports, be rappers, whatever,” Kirk said. “We don’t show them that it is reading that is the key to jobs like engineer, doctor, teacher.

“We have to do better. If a kid thinks that life is sports or entertainment – or selling drugs – that’s not life.”

So Kirk and many from his church, Sanctuary of Life Outreach in Rock Hill, are collecting books to give to kids in York, Chester and Lancaster counties this summer. The effort kicks off Friday night, with a free concert featuring Christian rap and other music at Rock Hill’s Friedheim Park – aiming to show that reading can be cool.

The group has collected about 1,000 books already but is seeking more, said Carlondo Brown, one of the volunteers who is active in community events.

“We want to make it cool and fun to read and be a good student,” Brown said.

The books will go to all children, but the group is focusing specifically on helping black kids do better. Only 43 percent of black children in South Carolina measured above basic reading in fourth-grade testing in 2013.

“We cannot accept that less than half of our African-American children do not read at grade level,” Kirk said. “We have to stress that reading is the key to the future.

“There is more to life than sports, music, entertainment.”

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •  adys@heraldonline.com

Want to help?

For more information or to donate books for kids in York, Chester and Lancaster counties to read this summer:

▪ Call 803-524-5935

▪ Email solocenter@aol.com

▪ Go to thesolocenter.com.

Want to go?

What: Christian rap concert to celebrate reading

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Friedheim Park, 300 Friedheim Road, Rock Hill

Admission: Free

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