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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spring SCORES with the Tigers, Part VI: Timelines & Tasks

This spring, we are following Amidon-Bowen's season highlighting their service-learning project, but also attending games and soccer practices. The Tigers are located in Southwest D.C. in Ward 6. You can follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Lorena Palacios
Communications Intern

During my very first day as an intern at DC SCORES, I had the privilege of hanging out with the kids of Amidon-Bowen and learning about their service-project, Fight 4 Fitness.

Even though it was a bit windy outside, it was overall a great day to start off with some soccer. Coach Lee and Coach Carlos had the Tigers practicing their passes and getting used to using both of their feet. The poet-athletes then went on to have some 1v1 drills to get them warmed up for their scrimmage. These kids are seriously so skilled with the ball. During the game, one of the goalies scored from their side of the field!

After such an exciting game, everyone was in a great mood to start setting a timeline and specific tasks that are going into Fight 4 Fitness.

The Media, Marketing, and Information Desk committees each started brainstorming specific goals each group is going to put into place to accomplish their overall objectives for their project. Their four main goals are: to raise awareness about their program within their school community, inform the students about the importance of healthy eating and drinking plenty of water, remind everyone to exercise daily, and teach families how to incorporate these habits into their lives at home.

Last week, the Marketing committee put up posters in the school's hallways about healthy eating portion sizes. The Information Desk is going to share quick and easy recipes, like strawberry balsamic and spinach salad. Finally, the Media committee was gathering research about healthy facts to include in the morning announcements starting the very next day.

Did you know that the healthiest food item in the world is a lemon? I didn't know until the kids in the Media committee found that out in their research!

As always, Mr. Keck, Coach Lee, Coach Carlos, and Coach Pecot were very helpful in assisting the committees during their brainstorming and planning process.

It was such a great experience being able to spend my afternoon at Amidon-Bowen. All the coaches and kids were super welcoming and made my first day better than I could have ever imagined. I'm looking forward to going back and continue sharing their progress and results for their Fight 4 Fitness service-project.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Barnard Elementary School marches for immigrants' rights

Written by Hannah Ehlers
Barnard writing coach

“Build bridges, not walls!” was a popular chant at Barnard’s immigration rally last week. For their service-learning project, the DC SCORES Barnard Bears marched to nearby Grant Circle, chanting supportive slogans and holding up their handmade signs. Students’ signs read “America is best together!” and “Love trumps hate!” Neighbors waved and clapped and cars slowed and honked as two dozen third-fifth grade students marched past. The Barnard Bears got their message across: immigrants are welcome here.

In the weeks prior to the rally, I guided the Barnard student-athletes through the service-learning process. As their service-learning coach, I was eager to see the direction they would choose to take. We began by looking closely at their community, examining its positive and negative aspects. As a class, we discussed what the students appreciate -- the friendliness of neighbors, the multiculturalism. And we discussed what they thought should change -- the amount of trash on the streets, the violence. Students focused particularly on discrimination based on race and ethnicity. Several students expressed how many of their immigrant friends and family feel scared and unwelcome as a result of the current political climate and its real-life manifestations.

We then researched and learned about the history of immigration in the United States, the immigrant communities of Washington, DC, and we read about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s new legal defense fund for undocumented immigrants. We discussed the many reasons that people immigrate to this country and shared some of our own families’ immigration stories. The DC SCORES Barnard Bears come from all over the world, from El Salvador and Nigeria, from Eritrea and Guatemala, from Mexico and beyond. Finally, the Bears voted on and chose as their project title, “Keep the American Dream Alive.”

Now it was time for action! The Barnard Bears knew they wanted to help make everyone in the community feel safe and welcome, but how exactly would they do it? The poet-athletes brainstormed and decided that they would hold a rally to show support for immigrants. They had seen protests and rallies in the news and understood that it could be an effective way to create change. Together, the class decided on their project plan -- we would choose a location and date for the rally; we would write letters to the principal and school community to tell them all about our plans; we would create posters and write speeches; and when the day of the rally came, we would document it so that we could further spread our message on social media.

Finally, rally day was here! The students lined up with their posters and began the march to Grant Circle. Once we arrived at the circle, some of the students gave mini-speeches. Dairelynn declared, “No matter where you are from, we are glad you are our neighbor!” In unison, Brian and Cordell yelled, “We support immigrants!” Cars honked in encouragement and passersby smiled and waved. I asked how the students were feeling; they felt powerful and heard. No one could deny their message.

The Bears returned to the school chanting, “Barnard welcomes everyone!”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring SCORES with the Tigers, Part V: Creating committees & goodbye

This spring, we are following Amidon-Bowen's season highlighting their service-learning project, but also attending games and soccer practices. The Tigers are located in Southwest D.C. in Ward 6. You can follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

Though I was sad to be spending my last day with the Tigers, the weather outside was beautiful and perfect for soccer. 

The Amidon coaches began practice with passing drills, trying to teach the poet-athletes to move after they pass. After working on that for a while, the Tigers transitioned into a scrimmage of girls vs. boys. Afterward, all the players were in high spirits heading into service-learning class.

Since my last visit, the Tigers had made significant strides in their service-learning project. They had decided on how exactly they wanted to implement their project, Fight 4 Fitness, and had created committees that would carry out each part. 

The committees were split into "Media," which would handle creating a powerpoint on healthy living to show to the student body, as well as crafting daily announcements to say over the intercom in the morning; "Marketing," the group that decides what posters they will be using and creating and where they will be hung around the school for maximized viewing; and "Information Desk," a table that will be set up during after-school hours that will give health and wellness information to students in all grades as well as parents coming to pick up their child.

The students chose what committee they wanted to be on, splitting almost perfectly into three even teams without help needed from the coaches, and got straight to work. The marketing committee, assisted by Coach Carlos, started going through all the posters they already had and designing new ones they wanted to display. The media committee chose a group leader, and then designated themselves into smaller groups to work on the powerpoint and announcements. Finally, the information desk committee gathered all the resources they had, began sorting them, and then deciding what to use. 

The session was very productive, and I know Amidon-Bowen is going to have a very successful service-learning project presentation at Jamboree! June 3. 

In the past five weeks, I have seen growing student involvement and excitement about their project, as well as more commitment to their team and students working together to get good results at their games. I had an awesome time getting to know the Amidon students and coaches; everyone at the school was so welcoming. They made my last weeks working at DC SCORES memorable and fun, and I can't wait to go back and visit!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spring SCORES with the Tigers, Part IV: Pledging against gun violence

This spring, we are following Amidon-Bowen's season highlighting their service-learning project, but also attending games and soccer practices. The Tigers are located in Southwest D.C. in Ward 6. You can follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

Last week the Amidon-Bowen Tigers were in high spirits for programming Monday.

As usual, the poet-athletes began outside for soccer practice. Coach Lee started the practice with dribbling and footwork exercises, in the hopes of helping the students gain confidence on the field. Next, they did some 1 v 1 drills and then finished practice with a little scrimmaging. Several kids got the opportunity to try playing goalie.

Then it was service-learning time! As part of their project Fight 4 Fitness, students focused last week on either a poem, story, or play about how they have been affected by gun violence and how detrimental guns are to living in a healthy, happy community.

When coach Pecot gathered everyone together, their writing complete, the students shared with each other about how they had heard guns, seen guns, and had family members affected by guns.

Finally, the whole class, teachers included, recited a pledge against gun violence:

The Pledge
I will never bring a gun to school;
I will never use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute;
I will use my influence with my friends to keep them from using guns to settle disputes.
My individual choices and actions, when multiplied by those of young people throughout my city, will make a difference.
Together, by honoring this pledge, we can reverse the violence and grow up in safety.

After reciting, the students all signed their pledges as a measure of accountability, and returned them to Coach Pecot. The lesson was an important one that the students will highlight in their posters for their fitness expo to wrap up their service-learning project.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Volunteer spotlight: Deirdre Hart from Discovery

DC SCORES has more than 500 volunteers who help make our program possible for 2,200 low-income DC kids. From assistant coaching, to tackling our big events, to providing expert services and advice, to folding newsletters in our office, to reffing weekly soccer games, to taking photos and videos, and much more, our volunteers make a difference in many ways and with varying schedules.

Today we highlight a volunteer, Deirdre Hart, who has done everything from facepainting to fundraising for DC SCORES. Get to know Deirdre below, and if you'd like to help out this spring, sign up HERE!


What is your day job?
I’m in finance at Discovery. More specifically, our team manages the global accounting process for all programs produced by Discovery.

How did you first get involved with DC SCORES?
I found out about it through one of my best friends Jessica Rosen and Sean Hinkle (Chief Program Officer, DC SCORES). We have other friends who are involved and volunteer with DC SCORES as well! So a mixture of current staff, former staff, and friends.

Can you name some of the ways that you are involved with DC SCORES?
Obviously I volunteer at the major events, Fall Frenzy and Jamboree! I helped out at Our Words Our City this year as well. Internally, I do a lot of work to help recruit more Discovery volunteers through our finance team, and I am participating in Discovery’s Dollars for Doers program with DC SCORES this year!

Can you explain more about the Dollars for Doers initiative?
Dollars for Doers is a way for Discovery to support their employees and to encourage us to give back and contribute to our community. The program supports employees by making contributions to causes that we are passionate about. It gives us an incentive to become even more involved and make a bigger impact. If we volunteer for 30 hours over a program year to a nonprofit, Discovery will make a $3,000 donation to that organization.

How has your time with DC SCORES impacted you?
My biggest thing and what I love about DC SCORES is I love the opportunity it provides for kids. It allows kids to have something that they can do and participate in after school -- it keeps them active, which is super important to me, and it also grows their confidence. DC SCORES helps pave the way to success. It is amazing to see an 8-year-old killing it on stage at the Poetry Slam!. Volunteering with DC SCORES gives me a way to make an impact with kids in DC.

Can you share a favorite memory?
During Fall Frenzy, I signed up to volunteer and was assigned to face painting, and I thought, “Oh no, I’m an accountant,” but you all assured me that I would be fine. Well, while I was doing it, one of the moms asked me, “Woah, are you an artist??” and kids were lining up for me! That obviously made me feel great, but also all of the kids and families were so grateful and happy to be a part of the event. Doing the face painting was also amazing because it allowed me to sit and talk with each of them one-on-one, and that was really cool.

What motivates you to volunteer?
I think just giving back in general is so important for everyone. We all had help along the way in different ways and capacities. Growing up, I’ve always volunteered. You get a lot out of it and the people you are helping get a lot out of it as well. It makes the world go round, you know!

What do you do in your free time?
I like to travel, my husband is an airline pilot, so we love going to new places. I also enjoy going to see shows at different music venues, as well as exploring all of the other great things to do in DC. My husband and I are taking Spanish lessons right now, AND we recently adopted our dog, Bruno.

If you could ask your new dog one question, what would it be?
We adopted him 3 weeks ago, and he is about a year old. I wanna know what he looked like as a puppy! I would ask him to go find a photo for me because I bet he was even more adorable.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring SCORES with the Tigers, Part III: Rainy days and surveys

This spring, we are following Amidon-Bowen's season highlighting their service-learning project, but also attending games and soccer practices. The Tigers are located in Southwest D.C. in Ward 6. You can follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

It was a dreary Monday, and there had been little stopping the drizzle all day. The Amidon-Bowen Tigers did not let that keep them from learning, though.

Instead of having practice outside, the Tigers all filed in to Coach Lee's classroom for an indoor soccer lesson. Coach Lee and Coach Carlos talked to the poet-athletes about their work and effort in practice, and how that can affect the outcome of games. Afterward, students reviewed positions and roles on the field.

Next, Coach Lee stepped up the indoor practice by taking the students upstairs to run laps with the track team. After 6-8 laps, the students were red-faced, breathing heavily and ready to begin service-learning.


Once settled with Coach Pecot, the service-learning lesson began; they were covering the process of creating and using surveys. First, Coach Pecot wrote a survey about smoking on the board for the students to complete. After practicing answering questions, the students brainstormed, in small groups, questions that they could ask their school community regarding their health habits.

The coaches encouraged the students to think outside of yes or no questions. Some students created questions that had answers from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Others thought free response questions could give them more information on the respondent.

One student, Ryan J., told me he wanted to ask, "Do you like junk food? Do you want to stay healthy? When you eat do you have all 5 food groups on your plate?" He thought that people would be more likely to take the survey and finish it if the questions had yes or no answers.

By the end of the session, the students had made great progress in determining the best way to gauge community members' attitudes about healthy living and how they can encourage fitness for all. Fight 4 Fitness is well on its way to being a very successful service-learning project!