Thursday, April 17, 2014

DC SCORES Podcast episode VI: Poetry SLAM!, summer camp, and soccer; oh, my!

On this supersized edition of the DC SCORES podcast, Communications Manager Jake Lloyd and Communications Intern Kara Dunford sit down to discuss a busy month at DC SCORES. Tune in for a rundown of April's highlights, including the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM!, the Couch to Camp Campaign, and more. Plus, hear the song Jake calls his favorite from his five years at DC SCORES.

Download the mp3 file by clicking here, or use the audio controls below to listen to the episode.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes to be the first to hear our latest content.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Students come together to fight hunger during Global Youth Service Day

Written by Kara Dunford
Communications Intern

Tonight, 17 million children in the United States will go to bed hungry.

This statistic is one of the many that DC SCORES teams from Seaton Elementary School and Thomson Elementary School learned last Friday as part of Global Youth Service Day.

To celebrate the day, children in over 135 countries serve their communities and learn about the world’s most pressing issues. Together with Youth Service America and Sodexo Foundation volunteers, DC SCORES highlighted the work of the Seaton Stingers and Thomson Tigers in understanding childhood hunger through an afternoon of fun activities.

To kick things off, students came together to talk about what it feels like to be hungry.

“You get an ear infection,” offered one student.

While the response provoked a bit of laughter, his answer pointed to the wider effects of hunger - both mental and physical - that are nothing to smile about.

The day’s activities promoted a message of healthy eating and physical activity. Students were divided into teams and rotated through various stations, including a trail mix making station provided by Sodexo that proved to be a hit with the students, and physical fitness stations that challenged the students to show off their athletic skills.

“We’re having fun, but we’re also learning about children who don’t have food,” said Johana S., a fourth-grade student at Thomson.

One of the most powerful stations for me was the arts and crafts table, where students had the chance to design posters to hang in their schools that presented facts about hunger. Though it may seem like a small solution to a large problem, the poster-making project achieved a two-fold purpose: community awareness and action, two central components of the DC SCORES spring service-learning curriculum.

The project made the Stingers and the Tigers aware of the facts about hunger and empowered them to do something about it.

For more sights and sounds of the day and to hear from the students, watch the video above and here. Be sure to stay tuned this spring as elementary and middle schools across the city design and implement service-learning projects!

View Global Youth Service Day photos here

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cresa Washington DC's 'Camp Champs' lead summer camp fundraising campaign

Written by Daniel Meloy
Senior Director of Development & Communications


It’s a time so many kids look forward to. A time to play, to be with friends, to just have fun!

But for many kids who don’t have access to safe, structured activities, summer can mean a time to be stuck on the couch, with the only activity being video games or watching TV.

That’s why DC SCORES offers free summer camps to keep kids active and learning in a safe and structured environment. Our soccer and arts camps engage over 250 kids and help combat summer learning loss as well as fitness loss. We keep kids off the couch!

And to keep our summer camps free to all who participate, each spring we conduct our Couch to Camp Campaign. The annual fundraising campaign runs for several weeks and raises thousands of dollars needed for camp counselors, equipment, supplies, healthy snacks, and buses - all the things that create a fun summer experience.

This year, we wanted to give our Couch to Camp Campaign an extra boost. We asked ourselves, “How do we give the campaign greater exposure and raise more money?”

We didn’t have to look very far for our answer. Our good friends at Cresa Washington DC quickly signed on as the presenting sponsor of the campaign.

Cresa Washington DC has supported DC SCORES in a variety of ways, so it was no surprise that its support for the Couch to Camp Campaign was more than simply writing a check.

With support from the Cresa Washington DC partners and a team of dedicated employees, the company made a generous financial commitment. But then Cresa went one step further, with 10 employees serving as “Camp Champs.” Each Camp Champ set up a personal online fundraising page and has been asking friends, family and colleagues to make donations.

As we head into the final two days of the Couch to Camp Campaign and are close to reaching our fundraising goal, the Camp Champs are hard at work. We are grateful for their commitment to DC SCORES and to the kids we serve. We can’t wait for Cresa Washington DC day at camp this summer, when Cresa employees will attend camp, meet and interact with the kids, and experience first-hand exactly what they are helping to make possible.

Thank you, Cresa Washington DC, for your generosity and dedication to DC SCORES and the kids we serve!

To contribute to this year’s Couch to Camp Campaign, please go HERE.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Service-learning at Seaton Elementary: Grooming a garden for the school community

Written by Kara Dunford
Communications Intern

How do you define community?

What are the differences between superheroes in books and movies and everyday heroes?

As the sun shines and temperatures rise, DC SCORES students are tackling these very questions.

This spring, DC SCORES teams are learning that you don’t have to be Superman rescuing a man trapped in a Metropolis mine to be a hero. Armed with an awareness of your community and its strengths and weaknesses, you too can be an agent of good.

On March 10, spring programming kicked off at 47 public and public charter elementary and middle schools across the city. Through a mixture of soccer and service-learning, the spring curriculum provides students the opportunity to develop both their physical fitness and their sense of community while strengthening bonds between teammates.

Teams at each school brainstorm and implement a service-learning project over the course of the season. Past projects have included a race to raise money for an animal shelter, a technology lesson for senior citizens, a depression awareness campaign, and the creation of a school recycling program, to name just a few.

During my first visit to Seaton Elementary School in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, the Seaton Stingers told me a bit about how they selected their service-learning project.

As they took a look around their school and neighborhood community, two big problems stood out.

The first: a garden in disarray after the harsh winter.

Last spring, the Stingers created a garden space to grow fruits and vegetables for the school and neighborhood. But during the summer months and then into the fall and winter, the unattended garden was subject to destruction. A lack of respect for the space combined with the months of snow and cold temperatures left the garden in desperate need of some sprucing up.

Just steps away from the garden lies the second problem. Large holes dot the school’s soccer field, posing an injury risk for its young players.

After some thinking, the team of third through fifth graders decided they would sell the fruits and vegetables from their garden to raise the money needed to give the field the care it needs.

Fifth grader Guadalupe S. said she is excited to begin work on the project and hopes it will leave her with a sense of accomplishment.

“I think I will feel happy because I have helped the garden and because I’ve made it a better place,” she said. Airin C., another fifth grade student, said he is most looking forward to planting the fruits and vegetables.

“It’s fun because you get experience with the earth and with nature,” he said.

It won’t be easy, but the Stingers -- in just their second full year of programming -- have proved they are up to a challenge that will require leadership, teamwork, and commitment, DC SCORES’ core principles. This past December, Seaton was crowned the champion at the Westside Poetry Slam!.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Julian C., a fifth-grader. “We’re going to make the garden look more healthy.”

Check out the video above and HERE to see more from the Seaton Stingers. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates from a season of soccer and service-learning.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nothing but inspiration at America SCORES National Poetry SLAM!

Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

"I'm in awe."

Those words were spoken by Briana Scurry, someone who isn't easily impressed. After all, the legendary U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper won two Olympic gold medals and the 1999 World Cup during an incredibly decorated soccer career.

So when Scurry — the newly anointed spokesperson for America SCORES — took to the stage about midway through the 8th Annual America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! at the New York Stock Exchange Monday night, she meant those three words — and she was far from alone.

We were all inspired.

During an action-packed hour, 26 poets representing 13 America SCORES cities far and wide took the stage and wowed the audience with an exhibition of self-expression like I've never seen before — and that's saying something, considering I've been at five DC SCORES Poetry Slam! events.

As many of the hundreds of guests remarked afterward, from the opening group poem — put together during just two days of practicing! — to Xavier C.'s culminating and incredibly powerful school closing poem, there was no drop-off between performances. But they were also incredibly varied, keeping audience members on the edge of their seats throughout the night. Some poems were in Spanish; others were pure comedy; more than anything, we got to know the amazing students through their self-expression.

Awe. We were all in awe.

And all convinced of the impact these students — just a handful of the 8,000 impacted each year through America SCORES — will make on the world.

Once the event had concluded and the students received a long standing ovation from the likes of Scurry, former soccer star and current broadcaster Shep Messing, members of the New York Red Bulls, and hundreds of others, guests wouldn't let the evening's stars leave just yet.

We all wanted their autographs. The 26 elementary and middle school youth walked around in their America SCORES T-shirts — with their cities on the back — signing guest's programs and having us ink words of congratulations on their red shirts. It was the perfect capper to an incredible night of inspiration.

Except, for one student, it wasn't over...

Xavier — showing no signs of fatigue from a LONG day — headed to New York's NBC studios with America SCORES Executive Director Holly O'Donnell for an appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell." The national show's first guest in 2010 was Joe Biden. On Monday night, Xavier owned the spotlight (VIDEO).

The 10-year-old could have been forgiven for appearing a bit tired on late-night TV, but Xavier was far from that. Rather, he was a natural in front of the camera, demonstrating the same poise he had two hours earlier in delivering his poem for the national TV audience and answering all of O'Donnell's questions without hesitation.

When the segment ended, Xavier — looking like a seasoned TV guest — told O'Donnell, "Thank you for having me."

After Monday's grand show, I had the same feeling for the poet-athletes who put on the greatest exhibition of self-expression I've ever witnessed.

If you weren't at the NYSE and missed the live streaming of the SLAM!, you can still watch it on the embedded player and HERE (beginning at the 22:00 mark).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poetry Slam! performance of the week: Burrville Elementary School

Each Wednesday during the year, we will highlight one of the 41 performances from the 16th Annual DC SCORES Poetry Slam! that took place Dec. 4-5, 2013. The event is the largest youth poetry slam in the District and highlights the original poems of our 1,500 youth. To view any performance from the Poetry Slam!, visit our YouTube channel. You can also read recaps of the event on our blog: WestsideEastside

Today we highlight Burrville Elementary School, which brought a unified, diverse and highly entertaining performance to the stage at H.D. Woodson Senior High School. The highlight of the Eagles' performance was a fun back-and-forth between two students on the team named David, which included lots of quick talking and fun poking at each other.

Click on the embedded video player above or HERE to watch Burrville's performance!