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Monday, April 12, 2010

DC SCORES students and alumni gain invaluable lessons from 4-H Health Rocks clinic

This past Saturday proved that the reach of DC SCORES extends beyond the after-school time slot.

DC SCORES teamed up with the University of The District of Columbia’s 4-H program to host a fun-packed day of soccer, activities, learning and food. Over 80 DC SCORES participants and alumni spent the afternoon at Tubman Elementary School, playing soccer with college players from DC-area schools, including George Washington University, American University, Georgetown University, University of the District of Columbia, University of Maryland, Howard University and Montgomery College. Players were excited about the opportunity not only to play soccer with the students, but to teach them the values of teamwork, respect and how to reach their potential.

The event drew SCORES kids from neighboring and distant schools dressed in their game-day uniforms, ready to interact with skilled soccer players and meet other DC SCORES students. Elementary school students from Tubman, Bancroft, Brightwood, Aiton and ATA; middle school students from Paul, Oyster-Adams, Lincoln, Cesar Chavez Prep and Deal; and DC SCORES alumni from Bell, Anacostia, Coolidge and Spingarn high schools were in attendance.

By the end, everyone took away useful health knowledge to bring home to their siblings, parents and friends, and each student received a free gift bag with various health information packets and toys.

On Tubman’s turf field, college players led small groups of SCORES students and alumni in various drills, working on passing, dribbling, ball control and shooting. One student’s favorite game was “Hospital Tag,” in which each participant dribbles in a designated area and must avoid being tagged by one assigned player. When a player is tagged, they must cover their wounded area while continuing to dribble. The game teaches kids about different body parts while improving their dribbling and coordination skills.

After scrimmaging with the college players, students explored the various booths on the blacktop area. Howard University had a booth offering admissions information, and representatives spoke with middle and high school students about their educational futures. Students lined up at the food booths that offered a balanced meal of turkey sandwiches, pretzels, fruit and water. A neighboring booth prepared freshly made fruit smoothies, perfect for a hot spring day.

The most popular booth (well, besides the food!) featured a health lesson. Students took health-related quizzes that tested their knowledge of their bodies and the consequences of tobacco, and were awarded prizes for engaging in this difficult discussion. Two sets of model lungs were displayed on the table, one healthy and one unhealthy. The healthy model was clean while the unhealthy model was filled with tar to demonstrate the toxicity of cigarette smoke.
Students also tried breathing through small straws to witness first-hand how smoking makes the simple task of breathing arduous. I asked a student what she learned about smoking. “I don’t understand why people smoke,” she exclaimed. “Don’t they know their lungs will turn black?”

As students began to head home (or board the bus to go see the Washington Freedom’s opening game), I asked a few what their most memorable part of the event was. Every student had nothing but positive remarks, and some were so confident in what they learned that they quizzed me on various nutritional issues. One student’s comment stood out:

“I love soccer, it’s a great sport. But one thing I learned today was it’s not all about what you do on the field. Now I know how important it is to read and do well in school.”

Overall, the students left with a new sense of urgency to be healthy, engaged, and knowledgeable members of their community – all while meeting students from across the city and playing soccer in the sun. You can’t beat that.

-- Written by Zach Elkin, Elementary School Program Coordinator

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