18 children earned news bikes Wednesday afternoon in the Oakbrook section of Reading following a summer of reading in Ready.Set.READ!’s “Books for Bikes” initiative.

Children living in the Oakbrook community who participated and regularly attended an eight week summer reading program celebrated their achievements with a bike and helmet party for the last day of the program, courtesy of Customers Bank.

The summer reading program is a collaboration to ensure the youth receive a nutritious weekday meal and to address summer learning loss. Ready.Set.READ!, managed by United Way of Berks County, delivers the reading portion of the program, along with program partners Alvernia University’s Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement and the YMCA of Reading and Berks.

Other collaborators include Berks Community Health Center, Customers Bank, the Reading School District (providing meals) and the Reading Housing Authority.

The program began during mid-June offering activities like reading books, writing stories, vocabulary building, word recognition and learning games.

In total, more than 180 children participated in the program over four sites across the city, with 90 students having received their new bikes earlier this month. 18 children received their “new wheels” Wednesday in Oakbrook from United Way and Customers Bank representatives.

“Literacy is the foundation to life-long learning, and it was especially important to connect students with summer learning experiences this year with the disruptions in education caused by COVID. We are grateful for all of the support provided by Customers Bank and the program partners,” said Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County.

In addition to receiving new bikes, children also received school supplies by program partner, Reading Truck Body.

Over the past 6 years, the “Books for Bikes” program has provided over 300 bikes to children in the City of Reading.