Jamar L. knows how far he’s come.
He remembers when he wasn’t comfortable with his physical appearance. He remembers when he felt out of place on a soccer field. He remembers when he couldn’t stand the thought of speaking in front of other people.
All of that is in the past now. In his rearview mirror.
On Wednesday, the just-graduated eighth-grader from Lincoln Middle School stood confidently in front of state senators and other policymakers in Washington, DC and told his story.
“Just speaking in front of people and telling them about my experience with DC SCORES.”
That’s what Jamar said was his favorite part of his speech for the Campaign to End Obesity at the Washington Court Hotel
When Jamar joined DC SCORES as a third-grader at Tubman Elementary School, he never could have imagined doing such an important thing less than six years later. Then again, he also couldn’t foresee himself scoring goals for a championship soccer team as he did for Lincoln.
Jamar told the assembled decision-makers how, since joining DC SCORES, he has eaten healthier, increased his exercise routine from inactive to daily and, generally, strived to live a positive life.
“That was one of the greatest things was the impact DC SCORES had on me to eat healthier and exercise seven days a week,” Jamar said.
The transformation started on the soccer field for Jamar, who plans on volunteering for DC SCORES as a referee and assistant coach while in high school.
“It took a long time for me to progress,” said Jamar, who originally played defense for Tubman.
Then his coach moved him to forward as a fifth-grader.
“Coach said, ‘Jamar, go and score.’ So I went up there and scored a goal. My first goal EVER with DC SCORES!” Jamar recalled.
“After that, I started scoring more…
“It gave me confidence to get on the field and show them what I can do.”
Jamar took his newfound belief on the soccer field and transferred it to performing his poetry. Now, you can’t keep Jamar off center stage when his team is reciting poems.
He’s not shying away from public speaking opportunities like Wednesday’s, either.
“I think I won’t be scared of speaking in front of more people,” Jamar said after his speech. “I think I can talk to people like the President and presidents of companies.”
Jamar understands, too, the effect appearances such as Wednesday’s can have on youth battling similar circumstances to what he’s gone through. He feels that self-empowerment that is a staple of the DC SCORES model.
“I feel good,” he said, “because I talked to people who are very important and try to help people like (I was) that are unhealthy.”