Robert Tate, CEO, The Robert Tate Foundation / Image CFF Photos

In recognition of National Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Awareness Month, several children participated in a Robert Tate Speed and Agility Football Camp. The football camp, hosted by the Reading Clinic, Inc., was an annual charity fundraiser for dyslexia. The camp was held on October 17, at the Benjamin Johnston Memorial field in Philadelphia, and drew children from the surrounding neighborhoods. Participants received free books, school supplies, NFL giveaways, and food.

The children had an opportunity to meet and be coached by Robert Tate. Tate played nine seasons in the NFL and retired in 2007. In his early years in school, Tate struggled in areas such as reading and writing skills. In 2005, Tate formed the Robert Tate Foundation to mentor children who were having problems in school or in the community.

Tate was motivated by the children who participated in the football camp and liked the feeling of giving back to the community.

“Anytime you can work with the youth and give back and let them see your expertise and what you did on the field it’s a blessing,” said Tate.

Getting help with dyslexia

Kenneth Walker Jr. bought his 10-year-old son, Kenneth Walker III, to the football camp to help boost his son’s motivation in school. Although Walker’s son has not been tested yet for dyslexia, Walker said that he and his wife Kimessha, went to the Reading Clinic for support because they believe that their son needed help in literacy and that he could improve his literacy skills through reading.

“This was the first time I was exposed to the Reading Clinic and the diagnosis of dyslexia,” said Walker, who lives with his family in North Philadelphia. Walker said that his son, who attends public school, could definitely could use more academic support.

When their son, now in the fourth grade, prepares for the transition from elementary school to middle school, Walker said that he and his wife plan to explore options such as charter school.

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Robert Tate coaches children at a football camp / Image CFF Photos

Dyslexia affects test scores

Dyslexia is the most common reading disability and significantly affects student test scores. According to new data from a national test, 4th grade reading scores remained unchanged since 2013, while 8th grade reading scores went down two points. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which released data on mathematics and reading assessments, revealed that about 36 percent of 4th graders and 34 percent of 8th graders were at or above the proficient level. Results of the report are released every two years. For the 2015 NAEP test, a nationally representative group of 600,000 students took the test.

Kenneth Walker Jr. said that this was the second year that their son participated in the clinic and that Tate and the coaches were very engaging with the children.

“When Tate shared his story, the children were able to relate to him. I think when the children see a successful person who went through some difficulties in their reading, it’s very encouraging [for them] to continue to focus and to continue to try to do their best in reading and writing. It was a very positive event.”


Read Robert Tate’s book on how he made it from Little League to the NFL here.

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