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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Individual success story: DC SCORES was the only organized sport available

In the final couple weeks leading up to the beginning of DC SCORES fall programming Sept. 13, we’re highlighting the appeal of the program through individual success stories. As you’ll read below, DC SCORES can serve as an escape for students who are otherwise simply going through the motions:

Andre lives in the Trinidad neighborhood of DC and attends Wheatley Education Center. He does not get excited about much going on in school and as a result tardiness and truancy have been problems. When not in school, Andre hangs out on the corner and on porches with a much older crowd of young adult males, many of whom have dropped out of school and are chronic substance abusers. Andre has a very large memorial tattoo occupying most of his forearm, which he often tries to hide.

Leading up to his sixth grade year, all Andre wanted to do was be on an organized sports team -- he didn’t even care what sport -- but the opportunity had never arisen. When he found out that Wheatley was adding its first sports team through DC SCORES, he was one of the first to sign up.

At first, Andre came to DC SCORES on soccer practice days and gave his all on the field until 6:30 in the evening, but skipped writing days -- sneaking off at 3:30 to be with his friends. Luckily, Andre had teammates and four coaches who cared about him and held him accountable. They explained that being part of this team meant coming five days a week to both writing and soccer practice.

Before long, Andre started coming to school and practice every day. He began to put as much energy into writing poetry as he did into moving the ball down the soccer field. One day, he wrote this poem:

Black feels dark
It makes me feel lonely
It sounds like people screaming in my ears
I feel that I am losing my mind
It smells rotten
I hate black because it reminds me about violence

In Andre’s neighborhood, there are many unhealthy and dangerous distractions. Andre was quickly becoming disengaged and at an alarmingly young age. It is clear he was craving not only exercise and competition, but also camaraderie and self-expression. DC SCORES provided all of these things for him, simultaneously drawing him back into the school community and to a healthier lifestyle.

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