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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

National Girls & Women in Sports Day: An inspiring day with SCORES

Written by Javier Ponce Elizondo
Communications Intern

On February 1, the weather was beautiful — a perfect on which to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my day at two impactful events highlighting advancements in sports for girls and women. I was also surrounded by dozens of incredibly successful women in sports who served as inspiration for the DC SCORES kids at the events.

First I accompanied coworkers and members of the Women's Sports Foundation at the U.S. Capitol where we were joined by women from different institutions, organizations and schools. I didn’t know what to expect, but then suddenly the celebrities began to arrive, and the event quickly started with the introduction of each talented woman. I was quickly drawn to Phaidra Knight, a U.S. Women’s National Team rugby player who, on staged, couldn’t have looked more strong and sure of herself as she told the packed room about her story in sport. Just a day earlier, Phaidra had visited Barnard Elementary School and told the DC SCORES poet-athletes there what motivated her to be so successful in rugby. Now, many others were hearing it.

The other woman who caught my attention was Joanna Lohman of the Washington Spirit, a fantastic woman with incredible talent who also excels at telling her story in a way that those in the audience could relate to and feel motivated by. This was only our first event with Joanna of the day, as she’d head over to RFK Stadium with us later, too. Co-workers and I were lucky enough to get a photo with the soccer star before leaving the Capitol.


In the afternoon, we took two groups of children from different schools to be part of a very important, smaller-scale event at RFK. D.C. United and DC SCORES Executive Director Bethany Rubin Henderson had assembled a star cast of women in sports for a special panel. The audience? The middle school girls of Truesdell Education Campus.

With Bethany as the moderator, the women — including Joanna, her coach Denise Reddy of the Spirit, Deborah Larkin of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Maureen Galkin of D.C. United, and Erin Hawksworth, an ABC-7 sports anchor — spoke for over an hour about their experiences in sport. They touched on everything from their roots in sports, to facing challenges and things such as discrimination on the playing field and in their jobs in sports, to what motivates them to succeed. They left the students with not only gift bags and selfies taken with the stars, but helpful advice for the middle schoolers as they continue playing sports.

“I realized I just had to work harder,” said Lohman of being one of the first three women to be cut from the U.S. National Team.

Lohman added: “You are your best self when you have that confidence and you believe in who you are.”

Said Larkin: “We’re in your corner and we want you to have every opportunity.”

Afterward, Truesdell’s poet-athletes felt empowered.

“I feel really inspired, it just like made me want to do what they want to do,” said Truesdell student Nicole G. “I’ve seen that they chase their dreams, and I’m inspired to chase my dreams.”


En Español

Escrito por Javier Ponce Elizondo
Interno en Comunicaciones

Todo empezó el día primero de febrero, el clima era hermoso y el día pintaba ser emocionante y largo dentro y fuera de la oficina de DC SCORES, todos estaban emocionados y entusiasmados porque el día de hoy era el día nacional de las mujeres deportivas, así que a medio día asistimos a un evento en el capitolio en el cual en realidad se sentía la emoción de todas las mujeres que asistieron al evento al llegar mi equipo y yo nos atendieron de excelencia, nos ofrecieron de lunch unos exquisitos sandwiches y una pasta riquísima, después procedimos a tomar asiento, empezaron a llegar y llegar cada vez más mujeres de diferentes instituciones, organizaciones y escuelas.

De pronto comenzaron a llegar las celebridades y comenzaron a tomar asiento, y en menos de lo que se esperaba el evento comenzó, anunciando a cada una de las mujeres talentosas que estaban sentadas en el presidium, la maestra de ceremonias inicio diciendo su excelente trayectoria dando inicio al motivo del evento, de pronto comienza a llamar a cada una de las mujeres talentosas del presidium a decir su trayectoria y unas palabras al público, las que más llamaron la atención fueron dos mujeres deportistas muy talentosas una era Phaidra Knight una jugadora de Rugby, ella se veía asombrosa, fuerte y segura de sí misma, cuando comenzó a decir su trayectoria, supimos que era una mujer que había pasado por mucho y que su fuerza de voluntad la llevó a estar en donde está hoy en día, la otra mujer que me llamó mucha la atención fue la jugadora nacional de soccer Joanna Lohman una fantástica mujer con un talento increíble! Su confianza y su presentación describirían a una mujer posible de cualquier reto, comenzó a decir su trayectoria también y cada vez que hablaba a todos nos impresionaba, su palabras fueron motivadoras.

Fue un evento digno de su presentación, se concluyeron con algunas preguntas demasiadas importantes como en la cual participo mi compañera en DC SCORES Lindsay, con una pregunta de suma importancia.

El primer evento concluyó en celebrar este día tan importante para todas las mujeres deportistas, que han dado todo por el amor al deporte y han entrenado y trabajado duro para obtener todo lo que tienen pero no solamente eso sino para también impulsar a todas las mujeres a que sean más participativas en el tema deportivo y que sepan que existen grupos, organizaciones, movimientos que apoyan su causa y la importancia de tener mujeres en el deporte.

Pero el día aun no terminaba y quedaba mucho por hacer, así que llevamos a dos grupos de niñas de las diferentes escuelas, para que formaran parte de un evento de suma importancia, nada más y nada menos que en el estadio de DC United, el equipo de soccer de DC, en el cual nos acompañó por segunda vez la directora de la fundación de mujeres deportistas entre otras celebridades, en este segundo evento la situación era más personal con las niñas de Colegio Truesdell Education Campus así que les mencionare algunos de sus comentarios acerca de su experiencia en este evento tan motivacional.

“I feel really inspired, it just like made me want to do what they want to do,” said Truesdell student Nicole G. “I’ve seen that they chase their dreams, and I’m inspired to chase my dreams.”

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tackling Nutrition with the Truesdell Trojans, Part III: An afternoon with Brainfood

This winter, DC SCORES is partnering with Common Threads to bring a curriculum on healthy eating and living tos even schools for six weeks as Winter SCORES programming. You can see updates from the schools by searching #WinterSCORES on Twitter and Instagram. Specifically, we're following the progress of Truesdell Education Campus. Follow along below.

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern


Last week, I had the unique opportunity to go to Brainfood, an organization that teaches young adults cooking skills, with the Truesdell Trojans. Brainfood led a Community Cooking Class for our students to learn a healthy recipe that they can recreate at home: creamy avocado pasta!

After riding the bus downtown to Brainfood HQ, the students were introduced to about 10 high school students who were leading the course. They explained the agenda for the day, which included a short lesson, games and, the best part, cooking!

The Community Cooking Coaches taught Truesdell students about the important food groups and healthy ways to incorporate some of all of them into meals. After a quick recap, the students stood up to play game and get their energy out before the cooking began.

The game split the room into two halves: true and false. Brainfood cooking coaches read statements about nutrition and the students had to decide whether they were true or false, and choose a side of the room based on that. 

"True or False, sucrose is a type of sugar?" is just one example of the questions asked by Community Cooking Coaches.

There was a mass migration of students from the false side to the true, led by a select few who remembered sucrose from their sugar unit.

"Correct, now lets get cooking!"

The students were then split up into small groups of about five and paired with two coaches. Each cooking station had all the ingredients for the creamy avocado pasta: avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper, corn, cauliflower, tomato, and water. 

The "sauce" was made first. Students were able to scoop avocado into a big bowl, then after adding the other ingredients they took their bowls to the blender station. They learned how to "pulse" the blender and that if their sauces were too chunky or dry to add more water to help smooth it out. The finished product looked delicious!

After each group had their sauce done, they added whole wheat pasta, corn, tomatoes and cauliflower to add some veggies to the meal.

Everyone took a turn mixing everything up, and then the coaches took the finished product to be plated. While that happened, Truesdell students learned how to wash dishes properly in a kitchen: it requires teamwork and hands at all stations (rinsing, scrubbing, drying and stacking). They were also able to try out the special industrial faucet!

Once everything had been washed, everyone filed into a classroom to taste their creation! Students all tried their group's pasta, but when they had finished that they were able to try other groups to give a look into how different things can change with just slight differences. They tried their pasta with hot sauce, which garnered very mixed reactions.

Eventually, everyone was stuffed with creamy avocado pasta and we loaded the buses to head back to Truesdell. All the students had a fantastic time, and now know an easy recipe they can make at home thats nutritious and delicious. A huge thank you Brainfood DC for such an amazing experience for all the students!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tackling Nutrition with the Truesdell Trojans, Part II: Good fats

This winter, DC SCORES is partnering with Common Threads to bring a curriculum on healthy eating and living tos even schools for six weeks as Winter SCORES programming. You can see updates from the schools by searching #WinterSCORES on Twitter and Instagram. Specifically, we're following the progress of Truesdell Education Campus. Follow along below.

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern


At 4:15, just like the previous week, students began funneling into the classroom to begin their time with DC SCORES. Their The Kitchen Times for the day was headlined: "Is Fat a Part of a Healthy Diet?" It outlined the good and the bad about fats and gave the students some new vocabulary like unsaturated fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

The writing coach, Cailin Eisele, began the lesson on Good Fats vs. Bad Fats. She explained how healthy fats are helpful to the body and nutritious, even though fats have a bad rep.

"What kinds of fats do you think are bad fats?" she asked the class.

Shouts of junk foods filled the room:



The class quickly realized all their favorite foods were classified as bad, or trans fats. After the lesson, the students did an activity on classifying good fats. They were given a riddle and had to decipher, from a word bank, which healthy fat the riddle was describing.

An example was "I am the cornerstone in guacamole." The answer? Avocado!

The last activity for the day involved looking at nutrition labels to find the amount of fat in students' favorite unhealthy foods. They were given a sheet that contained six common unhealthy foods, told to pick their favorite, and then find a friend to compare with.

Wilmer R. picked cheddar cheese; "It had nine grams of fat, which is a lot," he told me.

After everyone had shared their findings, the students packed up to head home.

Although there was no snack, the Trojans were excited for a special treat later in the week -- a visit Brainfood DC! Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Our Words Our City: A night of inspiration at Busboys and Poets

Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

Poetry and creative expression bring people together.

This was most evident, most clear, and most powerfully displayed Tuesday night at Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington, DC.

Those entering the popular DC restaurant were greeted with a sign on the door: "Our Words Our City SOLD OUT." The back room was packed with people by 6:15pm, half an hour before the show. DC SCORES donors, volunteers, staff, board of directors, kids' parents, teachers and others chatted while waiting.

And then around 6:45pm, the lights dimmed and focused on 13 DC children sitting in a semicircle on the small stage. There was Zakayah A., age 8, one of the many stars from November's Poetry Slam! who also performed on NBC Washington in December. Sitting to her left was A'dora W., age 18, who last performed on a DC SCORES stage seven years prior.

To Zakayah's right and Adora's left sat poet-athletes current and past, spanning that 10-year age range. Their interactions all night made them out to be friends who do this poetry thing together every day. And during the following hour, the kids provided one dose after another of inspiration for an audience chock full of jaws dropped.


Anyone who stepped out of the room at any time during the hour show missed out.There were no drop-offs in performance level. The show began with emcee Charity Blackwell passing a pad of paper to the nearest audience member with instructions -- write a line then pass it on. At the conclusion of the performances, Charity would read the words of every spectator in the room. Every voice matters.

Next, Karen Dale of AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia, the event sponsor, spoke about the power of poetry and set the stage for special guest and DC SCORES champion Councilmember David Grosso to share his own poem. From there, the kids took over.

The performances -- a few current poet-athletes followed by an alumnus, repeated -- demonstrated the evolution of a kid in our self-expression program. The current participants' poems were a little lighter while the alumni delved deep into myriad issues plaguing their communities today. But don't call them cynical. Every poem rung of hope, of creating change and making the world a better place.

The packed-house crowd erupted after every performance. Two guest poets  -- specialists, who help DC SCORES kids hone their performance techniques -- chimed in with their own works, and emcee Charity did the same. All the while, whoever wasn't performing at a given time watched their peer with fixated eyes.

To say the older kids inspired the younger would be an understatement. They were practically best friends by the end of the night.

“I got to get where I’m going, no time to fall below”
“No time for despair, I can only grow/ I can make it, it’s all I’ve ever known”
“I’ve got ideas, and courage, and life”

-- Myiah S., 18



That's how Jalia C., 10, of Aiton Elementary School answered the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It couldn't have been more befitting of her and the 12 other poets on stage Tuesday night -- kids comfortable in their skin, in their circumstances, in what they do on a daily basis. DC SCORES strives to empower kids to embrace themselves, to be confident in their own voices, and to take pride in their uniqueness. 

Our Words Our City was an impeccable demonstration. 

Xavier C., 13, knows he has a gift for poetry, influenced by his professional poet father, and he doesn't shy away from the places he can go with spoken word. The former DC SCORES Shine Award winner who went to New York City for the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! and performed live on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," wowed audience members with the sophistication and delivery of his new alphabet poem. 

Hope came from hip hop and even that got tainted
to learn, to live, to liberate themselves in America//where murder, mayhem, and the N word
never, never, never seem to cease
obvious cheating politicians pushing poor folk to a non-existence
Visual violence virtually violating the minds of our young
I wish I was an X-ray to examine America’s heart, and see if it really has a spirit

-- Xavier C., 13

Natalia L., 10, of Brightwood Education Campus, showcased her passion for animals with a repeat of the poem that won her the Shine Award and a teary hug from D.C. United coach Ben Olsen in November.

Then I got it,
What if I was an explorer,
What if I found a place that no one from our people had ever discovered,
What if in that place kids can run freely,
Without having to worry about the dangers in the world,
What if in this world peace there was the number one law,
And no one dared to break it,
I thought about it again,

Then it hit me,
What if there was no such thing as animal extinction,
And if there was, it wasn’t caused by humans,

Natalia L., 10


From Zakayah to Myia, from Xavier to Natalia, and every other child, Tuesday's first-ever Our Words Our City left every audience member feeling better about the world they share.

Because as Zakayah said with her poem, these powerful, smart, passionate voices...

Are. The. Future.

View photos from Our Words Our City on Flickr.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tackling Nutrition with the Truesdell Trojans, Part I

This winter, DC SCORES is partnering with Common Threads to bring a curriculum on healthy eating and living to seven schools for six weeks as Winter SCORES programming. You can see updates from the schools by searching #WinterSCORES on Twitter and Instagram. Specifically, we're following the progress of Truesdell Education Campus. Follow along below.


Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

The afternoon started with students trickling into the classroom and being assigned tables to share for the day’s activities. They began by doing a short reading in The Kitchen Times, a “newspaper” that focused on nutrition. Once all the students were in, seated, and quiet, the lesson began.

The writing coach, Emily Adams, asked the students what they know about proteins.

“They give you muscles!” came from the back of the room.

The lesson for the day was on the three different types of proteins, and the students learned to differentiate pretty quickly.

Their next task was to play a card game with the people at their tables. The cards all had different examples of proteins, such as chicken or soy beans, and when students got four of a kind of one type of protein, they had to shout “protein!”

Soon the room was filled with shouts of “protein!” but not all those who called out had the correct four-of-a-kind.

“Beans and chicken aren’t the same!” shouted one boy.

The snack of the day was a fun one; the students received cheese sticks and a small bunch of grapes. They were also given a knife and a skewer to make their own grape and cheese kabobs. KABOBS! Students cut their cheese into varying sizes and popped them onto their skewer alternating with grapes. The finished product was a big hit, and many said they would definitely be recreating the snack at home.

Since this was my first time taking part in a Winter SCORES program, I asked around to see what they had been learning thus far to fill myself in.

When asked what the best snack they had made this season was, April said, “I forgot what it’s called, but it was greek yogurt, coconut, honey, and lime with strawberries. You could really taste the coconut because it was shredded.”

April also told me she was excited to know more about nutrition labels because “then when we go home or go to the store, we don’t get all the junk...if we just eat junk food we won’t be able to play as well in our soccer games.”

The lesson will definitely assist the Trojans as they prepare for the upcoming spring soccer season, when healthy proteins are, no doubt, a must have.

As the day wrapped up, the students finished their snacks and cleaned their spaces. The student with the cleanest space and sitting the quietest received the full bag of extra grapes. The quick 45 minutes of programming was over, and it was time for the students to go home.

Winter SCORES is keeping the students on track for their soccer season and teaching them essential nutritional knowledge so that they may live happier, healthier lives.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

16 DC SCORES stories to celebrate 2016

2016. What a year for DC SCORES.

While much uncertainty and negativity ensnared the world, our country, and our city this past year, DC SCORES continued to thrive and stay mission-driven. We grew — again — to serve 2,200 low-income DC kids this fall. We completed the first year of a groundbreaking partnership with Major League Soccer's D.C. United, which led to increased visibility around the city and the chance to showcase our program in even more places. We strengthened relationships with city government officials, becoming somewhat of a mainstay at the Wilson Building. OK, we'll stop now and just get to the highlights!

This is never an easy task, but below in link, photo and video form (and chronological order) are our Top 16 from 2016. Please help us continue to grow — our waiting list stands at 20-plus schools! — and serve more DC kids with a tax-deductible donation before the ball drops Dec. 31

Thank you!


No. 16 — The first-ever Winter Sports Day

Last year, Winter SCORES reached a new level. In addition to daily nutrition education programming at eight schools and soccer clinics, we held the first Winter Sports Day. In partnership with the Qatari Embassy and Qatar Foundation International, more than 150 kids traveled to the Total Soccer Arena in Maryland for an afternoon of soccer games and learning about Qatari culture.


No. 15 — Nando's supports DC SCORES
What a day Feb. 27 was. In the morning, we got ready for the spring season with our Coach Kickoff training. Then everyone headed to the Nando's Peri for its grand opening supporting DC SCORES. Thanks to our partnership with D.C. United, a portion of proceeds from the restaurant's opening went directly to DC kids. Also, several D.C. United players came to eat and meet SCORES staff. And alumnus Christian, an aspiring cook, got a chance to help out in the kitchen.


No. 14 — Largest alumni tournament yet

Seventeen teams. More than 150 kids. Under cooperating skies, the 6th Annual Alumni Tournament sponsored by District Sports at Tubman Elementary School was a huge success as high school kids from across the city came together during spring break for an afternoon of soccer games, reuniting with friends and teammates of the past, and more.


No. 13 — Under the bright lights in New York City

For M'kya S., the poetry aspect of DC SCORES allowed the 10-year-old to express her feelings about violence in her neighborhood. M'kya excelled at the 2015 Poetry Slam! and was selected to represent her school, city, and DC SCORES at the America SCORES Poetry Slam! in NYC. M'kya met other kids from across the country and excelled on stage in front of a capacity audience.

BLOGS: Parts I, II, III and trip journal

No. 12 — DC SCORES on Telemundo

2016 was a great year for DC SCORES on TV and in newspapers. Not only was SCORES highlighted in The Washington Post twice, on ABC twice, and on CBS and NBC, but in May Telemundo featured the program — specifically bilingual Bancroft Elementary School — in a powerful segment.


No. 11 — Jamboree! continues to grow

Every year, it gets bigger. That was again the case in June as the 21st Jamboree!, DC SCORES' largest event at Anacostia Park, featured 2,000 kids playing soccer and engaging in other activities during a fun six hours. The event wouldn't have been possible without 150-plus volunteers and multiple partner organizations.


No. 10 — Speaking of big, how about that SCORES Cup? 

What makes holding such a large Jamboree! possible, not to mention the continuing growth of our program? Well, expanding our largest annual fundraiser helps! The 14th DC SCORES Cup did just that. The one-day tournament for companies on June 25 featured 500 DC-area professionals representing 32 teams and raised an event-record $140,000 directly benefiting DC kids.

Sign up for 2017

No. 9 — Welcoming many new staff

Serving more kids means hiring more staff to make it feasible, and 2016 was a banner year for bringing on new members to our team. In April, we added Duha Elmardi, an Atlas Corps fellow from Sudan. In July, we brought on Tony Francavilla to head up individual giving and Chloe Doto to lead community engagement. And a month later, we added four service-year members to our program team. The result? DC SCORES' largest internal team ever committed to changing DC kids' lives.

No. 8 — Mark "Popsie" Lewis wins Community MVP

Speaking of staff, we officially added Mark "Popsie" Lewis in 2016 to run our alumni program for high school students — something he's been doing unofficially for many soccer seasons. Popsie has coached DC SCORES teams from elementary school through high school for a decade, and in June he was named the D.C. United MLS Works Community MVP for his commitment. Popsie's award won a cash prize for DC SCORES and a trip for him to San Jose, Calif., to represent at the MLS All-Star Game.


No. 7 — Edwin goes to Princeton

Each summer, we watch with pride as DC SCORES alumni head off to higher education. For many, they are first-generation college students. The majority have overcome myriad obstacles societal and economic to take the big step. Such was the case for Edwin, who swam across the Rio Grande at age 9 to come to America, learned English with help from DC SCORES, and blossomed into a leader under coach Popsie. Edwin's story was on the front page of The Washington Post in April, and he earned a full scholarship to attend Princeton.


No. 6 — Leron wins Mayor's Arts Award

In September, poet-athlete Leron B. of Imagine Hope Community Charter School won the Outstanding Student Award at the 31st Mayor's Arts Awards. In front of a capacity audience of DC's most distinguished artists and advocates at the historic Lincoln Theatre, Leron performed and then graciously accepted the award.


No. 5 — DC SCORES debuts City Soccer League

In October, we debuted a third soccer league. Those familiar with DC SCORES know that elementary schools have "Game Day" on Thursdays followed by middle schools on Fridays. Thanks to adding several recreation center sites to programming as a result of our partnership with D.C. United, this past fall we began the City Soccer League (CSL) on Wednesdays. Program Manager Chris Hudler masterfully organized the league for all our recreation sites, making Game Day a three-times-a-week occurrence!


No. 4 — Fall Frenzy brings nonstop activity for kids

The kids kept coming. And so did the volunteers. On Oct. 22, Trinity Washington University's athletic fields were swarmed with a mass of elementary school children wearing different colored T-shirts. And 175 volunteers in yellow shirts. The fall outdoor celebration featured soccer games, relay races, dodgeball, D.C. United autographs, poetry writing, dancing, health and wellness education, hill rolling, and much more. And it ran incredibly smoothly thanks to such a large volunteer turnout.


No. 3 — A Poetry Slam! full of inspiration

No event showcases the impact of DC SCORES better than the Poetry Slam!, and 2016 in particular illustrated this. During the two-day showcase, students representing 40 schools took the stage in front of capacity audiences to spill out their feelings about their lives, the world around them, their country, their dreams, their anxieties, and their fears.

BLOGS: Westside, Eastside
PHOTOS: Westside, Eastside

No. 2 — Capital Cup shows strength of SCORES communities 

The fall 2016 DC SCORES season concluded under the lights at Cardozo Education Campus during a pair of middle school championship soccer games that illustrated the progress teams make during our 12-week season. The games also showed how SCORES brings communities together and strengthens them. The Truesdell Education Campus boys cheered heartily from the stands as the girls team completed an improbable comeback. And Raymond Education Campus' boys won their second consecutive Capital Cup thanks to tremendous teamwork and the support of a large contingent of parents and community members.


No. 1 — Zakayah and Mashir shine on live TV

Zakayah, 8, of Burrville Elementary School and Mashir, 10, of Imagine Hope helped close out the year in style by performing their Poetry Slam! poems live on NBC — looking like naturals in front of the brightest of lights. After their performances on the midday news, NBC's anchor gave them a hug — thanking the poet-athletes for the inspiration.



And that, really, is how one could sum up DC SCORES in 2016. From the soccer field. To the poetry classroom. To in front of the cameras. To New York. And back. To Princeton. And to many other places throughout this great city, SCORES kids, coaches and staff inspired, demonstrating that the program is as strong as ever and will continue to grow.

Here's to more of the same in 2017. Please give HERE to help us sustain and grow!