It was a beautiful morning on Saturday, April 27, at Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights. As people were sleeping in, going on a morning jog or heading to brunch, four DC SCORES teams participated in Global Youth Service Day, the largest service event in the world.
Global Youth Service Day is a weekend-long event dedicated to service-learning projects created and implemented throughout six continents and 100 countries all led by youth. At Tubman, C.W. Harris Elementary School students joined their friends from the Winter SCORES program, Bancroft and Thomson elementary schools, along with Aiton Elementary for a day of fun and fitness.
DC SCORES was able to host the event thanks to service grants received from the Sodexo Foundation, Disney Friends for Change and UnitedHealth HEROES.
“Dance, Run, Play.”
The youth danced to Beyonce’s “Move Your Body,” the “Cha Cha Slide,” “Cupid Shuffle” and the “Wobble.” They really got down when it was time to show the DCSCORES staff and volunteers how to “Dougie” and “Gangham Style.”
They then created snack bags to promote “portion control” when bringing snacks to school. After all, as long as eaten in moderation, most snacks are good for you! They filled the bags with their favorite fruits and veggies. The kids also created banners that read “Healthy Food for Everybody” and “Dance, Run, Play” along with many posters for the ultimate event of the day — the walk-a-thon.
Next up, it was time to take the Presidential Fitness Test, which measures students on their level of fitness. Students turned the test into a fun competition, with each school’s youth measuring their collective fitness level. Medals were given for demonstrating strength and endurance, but more importantly as symbols of kids’ dedication to being fit and healthy for their DC SCORES teams.
When it was time to cool off, students were greeted by the smiling face of Sodexo volunteers eager to see the service their grant helped fund! At their station, kids made their own trail mix with such goodies as Chex, pretzels and chocolate chips, along with fruits and fruit juice.
Then, finally, it was time for the main event. The WALK-A-THON!
At 12:30 p.m., we all gathered our posters and banners and lined up outside of Tubman ready to march! The students took to 13th Street chanting and cheering!
Spectators admired and cars honked in support as our change makers belted out, “NO KID HUNGRY, NO KID HUNGRY!”
Paula, a fifth-grader at Aiton, led the march with her megaphone, encouraging the community to “Wake up and start eating healthy! Say no to cheeseburgers, eat a turkey burger! Say no to junk food and eat a salad!”
As we turned from Otis Street onto 11th, the Saturday brunch patrons at The Coup, Red Rocks Pizza and Wonderland got a lesson from our kids on healthy eating. We began singing, “Healthy life equals a happy life” as we danced and waved our banners. Customers cheered and may have also questioned their brunch choices as our kids informed them on the growing issue of childhood obesity.
Crossing the last street light on our way back to Tubman, we paraded on the sidewalk, boasting, “DC SCORES keeps us healthy, DC SCORES keeps us healthy!”
Not only was Global Youth Service Day an event to promote healthy eating and living for the community, it was a day of empowerment for DC SCORES students. The day allowed students to advocate for change — and feel really good doing it! — for their respective communities.
This was demonstrated by Paula, our walk-a-thon leader, who after the walk called her mom to say, “Mom, you would have been so proud of me! I led the entire walk-a-thon, they had me on the microphone, and I was telling everyone to eat healthy!”
Or Ti-Ti, an Aiton fourth-grader who jumped up and down as she received her medal for the Presidential Fitness Test, exclaiming, “This is my first medal EVER!”
So often kids feel unimportant as parents, teachers and other adults tell them what to do and how to live. Global Youth Service Day — and the DC SCORES spring service-learning season as a whole — is a day set aside for youth to voice their opinions and create awareness on issues that solely effect them, such as childhood hunger and childhood obesity.
Consider the mission, this year, very well accomplished!