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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

DC SCORES outcomes evaluation shows program's effect on school engagement, physical fitness

A new report from DC SCORES shows the effectiveness of our program in District public schools. Last spring, we partnered with Symphonic Strategies, an independent consulting firm, to assess our program’s effect on the 700 elementary and middle school students we serve in Washington, DC.

And results showed that the evaluation participants improved in all areas – notably in their physical fitness.

Over a 12-week period in spring 2009, a sample representing over 10% of DC SCORES participants was surveyed. The report found:

Physical Fitness Gains:
  • Cardiovascular capacity increased by 61% by the end of the program;
  • Participants either maintained or decreased Body Mass Index (BMI) levels with decreases in Overweight and Obese classifications;
  • Boys classified as Overweight decreased by 10%;
  • Students reported having more energy, which correlated with getting homework done and eating fruits and vegetables.

Increases in school engagement:
  • 7% more students liked school at the end of the program;
  • Students who felt safe and supported by their teachers and coaches increased by 11%;
  • Participating in and liking DC SCORES correlated with a student’s belief that s/he will graduate to the next grade, from eighth grade, and from high school.

As is becoming more and more well-known, childhood obesity is a national epidemic. In DC, ranked the ninth highest obesity rate in the country, over 35% of children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. This stems from a lack of consistent school-based physical education, healthy food options, and safe places for children to play. Due to this lack of access, children from lower incomes are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Obese and overweight children are developing or are at risk for adult diseases such as type 2 diabetes, with African American and Latino children developing the disease at much higher rates than their Caucasian peers. Therefore, it is very important that students develop healthy habits early on.

Of the 700 participants DC SCORES enrolls, 65% are African-American, 33% are Latino, 1% are Asian, and 1% are white or other ethnicities. So you can see the importance of our program in fighting the obesity trend among minority children.

We combat obesity by providing over 120 hours of physical activity through soccer, and we keep our curriculum balanced with 90 hours of writing instruction through poetry and service-learning annually. The soccer and writing curricula are paired with health and nutrition components throughout the school year.

The report also measured school engagement, self-worth, and sense of belonging. A correlation was found between students’ attitudes about themselves, positive attitudes about school, and an ability to identify supportive adults. Research shows that when students are able to identify support systems within their school, they are more apt to like school, participate in class and avoid high-risk behaviors.

“DC SCORES is working directly with youth who need us most,” said Amy Nakamoto, our executive director. “By providing physical activity through soccer, combined with creative writing and service-learning enrichment, we are developing future leaders of our country who are fit, confident, and able to lead in all environments.”

The evaluation is available on our website.

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