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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nonprofit Roundtable Karel Fellow reflects on summer of learning with DC SCORES youth

This summer, Roland Walker is working for DC SCORES through the Nonprofit Roundtable's Karel Fellowship program. Roland is a rising senior at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations. He wrote the blog below for the Roundtable summing up his nine-week experience at DC SCORES.

Written by Roland Walker

These young children had the choice to be inactive the whole summer.

These young children’s minds could have become stagnant.

Instead, these kids and their parents wanted better. For the six weeks summer camp lasted, I witnessed elementary and middle school participants come to camp to play soccer, write poetry and go on field trips.

But the atmosphere incorporated more than sports and art. All of the activities fell under an umbrella called positive community.

Everyday life gives us choices. The choices kids make while they are young are more crucial than they know.

A child who spends his time reading and playing sports is destined for a brighter future than a child who spends three hours watching television and four hours hanging on the corner.

Youth is the time to explore in detail what the world has to offer beyond four walls and four corners.

A handful of positive opportunities expands into a vast amount of possibilities – but what if individuals and organizations didn’t come together to provide these possibilities?

DC SCORES is an organization that does.

I asked a handful of kids what they would be doing if they were not coming to camp. All of the kids said the same things — sitting at home watching television or doing nothing at all.

These kids don’t come from wealthy backgrounds. The option to vacation out of the state is a fantasy. The option to pay to play travel sports is unrealistic. The option to go to theme parks will take food away from the table.


Reintroducing DC SCORES — an atmosphere of fun and learning.

Over the summer, the kids went to the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space museum, Newseum, United States Botanical Gardens, the pool, and a few other places.

What do you remember about your childhood?

People remember the good and the bad moments. Individuals rarely focus on the moments in between the two extremes. Memories are built on events that provoke excitement, terror and other emotions.

You remember the instruments you played, the places you traveled, the highly influential people you met, the love you shared with another, the funerals of close relatives you attended and the birth of your first child.

Now why is this important? As we grow older and start to think about what we want to be in life, we look back and ask ourselves, “What do I excel in?” “What is it that I enjoy doing?” “What sparked a powerful emotion that made me want to act?” “What has my life molded me to be?”

Without after-school and summer programs like DC SCORES, many kids around the United States would not have anything proactive and positive to look back on.

The mission is to introduce our youth to the most that we can.

Think about it: what if Michael Jordan was not exposed to the sport of basketball? What if President Obama never went to college? What if Steve Jobs never had access to a computer? What if Oprah never did radio?

The exposures to his or her true calling were the most pivotal series of events in his or her life. Without being at the right place at the right time, these people would not have the same legacy. That place was not at the house doing nothing.

People, places and programs that open their doors to youth, adolescence, and young men and women are greatly needed now more than ever.


In the nine weeks that I was a part of the program, I learned how the pieces in the greater community come together to create a successful program.

I sat in at in-office meetings with DC SCORES staff as they discussed new developments, the upcoming year, program expansion and much more.

I learned how to effectively communicate through the use of social media and social outreach. I went to the different schools where DC SCORES held its summer camps, took pictures, conducted interviews and simply surveyed how things were going.

From there I wrote blogs and updated the organization’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. These modes of communication are crucial because they allow people to see what events are going on at the moment, the kids interacting with one another, updates on the organization, and many other things.

In other words, it helps to build the sense of community because he or she is able to be there without physically being there.

Also, it puts a picture with a price tag – meaning that donors can see where their money is going.

The proper use of social media is powerful but nothing is more powerful than experiencing the program firsthand.


I had the pleasure of taking a trip back down memory lane. Going to camp reminded me of the perfection of having a fun childhood.

What would childhood be without making new friends, playing sports, reading cool books, traveling and enjoying new experiences?

Through communication and public activity, these fortunate kids have a place to learn and play despite not having the financial resources to do so.

In addition, I learned from the two Nonprofit Roundtable learning sessions that public interest communication is a never-ending task. There are so many issues in the world that people do not know about. If individuals do not know about poverty, Tuberculosis, human trafficking, voting rights, education, health care and other issues, it is less likely that he or she will become an activist for the cause.


As love lives in all of us, we are born with the capacity to give and receive
The picture we paint is what children around the world believe in
Are we painting a scene of helping hands and good will?
Everybody join together and pick up a brush
Simply saying that the world needs change isn’t enough
Let’s apply color to grayed neighborhoods
Reinforce that the residents can achieve the impossible
Why? Because what’s possible is everything
Open doors for each other, if not we are hindering
There is a place for the child of a single mom
Where he or she will be protected and showered in affection
It’s not their fault their father neglected them and went in his own direction
There is a place for the child of immigrant parents
Where he or she will be accepted beyond the stereotypes of their accent
Their parents only want a chance for expansion and a better education
There is a place for a child lost in his or her own community
When the negativity of the streets isn’t a desired destination
We must help the kids who pull for his or her own salvation
It is what you make it
But how do we expect kids to grab greatness if there is no sign that says “take it”
The opportunity has to be present
All of the pieces to the grand puzzle must fit
Advocacy and action are a constant battle
In the public’s interest we cannot quit

— Roland E. Walker IV

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