Written by Anna Cohen-Price
Elementary School Program Coordinator
“Let’s go Seaton, let’s go!! Let’s go Seaton, let’s go!!”
These chants block out everything else, as the DC SCORES kids at Seaton Elementary cheer on their teammates with vigor. Seaton is one of 15 new schools that are a part of the DC SCORES team this year thanks to a Social Innovation Fund grant provided by the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
During our Coach Kickoff in the beginning of September, we saw tons of new, excited faces ready to jump in and be a part of the team. This excitement is reflected by all the new DC SCORES kids at each soccer practice, writing workshop, and game day.
Since the first day of programming on Sept. 10, the new schools have fit right in with the rest of the program. Many of these schools had been on a DC SCORES waiting list for years, which has led to a brand-new level of excitement for the program. In fact, it almost seems as if these kids and coaches have been participating in DC SCORES forever.
At many of these new schools, during the past month, we're already seeing a huge amount of enthusiasm to learn and try new things. Most students have never had the opportunity to be on a team before, let alone have an outlet for creative and physical expression. Every Thursday or Friday during game days, students get to sport a colorful jersey. These jerseys allow students to represent their schools and be a member of fun and loving communities.
Right before each game day, a DC SCORES staff member gathers the kids from both teams together to talk about sportsmanship and teamwork. Last week, the Seaton and E.L. Haynes kids raised their hands excitedly to explain to the group that these games were about having fun, rather than winning or losing. One student then proceeded to repeat to me what I had told them the week before:
“It may say ‘Seaton’ or ‘E.L. Haynes’ on our backs, but it says DC SCORES on the front – and that’s the team we’re really a part of!”
Some may think this is just talk, but sportsmanship is already playing a huge role in the environment at our new schools. During the last game day at Capital City Public Charter School, a young boy made a huge breakaway and was bounding toward the other team’s goal with no one standing in his way. In the process, someone from the other team was knocked down. Instead of continuing on to score an inevitable goal, he went back to help up the student on the opposing team. This student showed through his actions that respect and care for others is more important than personal gain.
This enthusiasm is also present in the poetry and writing classes. Every student participant receives a journal that they personalize with decorations on the outside, and fill with poetry and writing. In their workshops, they get a chance to write about their lives, experiences and interests, and share them in front of their peers. As a group, they work on individual and group poems or songs that they will perform as a team during our annual Poetry Slam!.
It is clear through site visits, communication with coaches and interactions with students that there is a level of energy and excitement that permeates the program at all of our new schools. The DC SCORES team is incredibly thankful for our ability to expand and provide 650 more DC youth with six times the amount of physical activity they normally receive in school, an outlet for self-expression and a safe and supportive community.
A huge thanks to all the coaches, parents and students who have embraced this growth – and ran with it!