Oliver James is a personal trainer, aspiring motivational speaker and father of a newborn baby. He lives right here in Southern California, in Costa Mesa.
Oliver is also a TikTok star with more than 130,000 followers, but it might not be for the reason you think. Oliver is functionally illiterate and he's been sharing his journey to overcome it on his TikTok channel @oliverspeaks1.
According to the Department of Education, almost 43 million Americans have low literacy skills and more than 8 million are what's considered 'functionally illiterate,' which means they're unable to determine the meaning of sentences, read short texts or complete simple forms.
Oliver says when he was growing up, he was in special education classes, but, there wasn't much of a focus on learning to read. He told Good Morning America recently:
"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than education. So they spent a lot of time restraining us, a lot of time disciplining us, a lot of times putting us in positions to kind of shape up to just not act out in class."
So Oliver decided to improve his literacy skills and is using his TikTok to achieve it and inspire others to do the same. He says his reading skills have improved so significantly that he has a goal of reading 100 books this year.
Jen talked to Oliver this morning about his story, and you're going to just love him so check it out!