I gave a young man an information sheet to fill out about himself tonight at SLAM (www.gripyouth.com/slam). After a few minutes I went to check on his progress and noticed most of the sheet was still blank. I pointed at the address field and asked him what his address was…he rattled it off quickly and confidently. But he never made a move to write it down where i’d indicated. I realized instantly that he couldn’t read well. I spelled out his address for him and he was able to write each letter. I did that for the remainder of the form as he waited for me to feed him every letter, not knowing which should come next. He is a sophomore in high school and looks forward to graduation in a few years he told me. The sad part is, if he’s made it this far without knowing how to read, he probably won’t have any problem graduating under the same circumstances. Tonight, I cried a little on the inside at the thought of ANYONE not being able to read in 2013, let alone one of my mentees. Bright side: he showed me some of his artwork. He likes to draw skulls and crosses and cars. An interesting mixture. His drawings were awesome and he was proud to show them to me. Tonight, I smiled a little on the inside at the thought that EVERYONE has been uniquely gifted by God, and even when we fail each other as the system has failed this young man, God never does. I guess I’ll be accepting drawing lessons in return for reading lessons from now on.