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Thursday, December 26, 2013

A parent's view: How DC SCORES boosted his daughter's confidence and improved her reading ability

Taylor Hawkins with her father and fan, Gregory.
(Please give the gift of team to students like Taylor before Dec. 31. Thank you!)

It’s Oct. 31 and Gregory Hawkins is making his presence felt on the sideline of the soccer field at Burrville Elementary School.

“Go, Taylor, go!” he yells exuberantly for probably the 10th time in 10 minutes. He claps, he cheers, he pumps his fist — all because he’s excited that his daughter in the yellow uniform of Anne Beers Elementary School is active on the soccer field.

Taylor Hawkins runs up and down the field, getting passed the ball one moment and dribbling the next. But as is the case with elementary school soccer, her touches are unpredictable. More important to Hawkins, his 9-year-old daughter is getting exercise and having a great time doing it.

"She’s so impressed with her physical ability,” Hawkins says beaming, explaining in further detail how much pride Taylor now takes in being fit.

Hawkins, a DC native who does construction for Tradesmen International in Fairfax, Va., doesn’t like missing a DC SCORES game or larger event like Fall Frenzy. He wants to see in-person his daughter’s continued progression into a confident, outgoing leader on the soccer field.

“Her leadership and her confidence — that's what I feel is the most important part of DC SCORES,” he said.


Fast forward to Dec. 5. Minutes before the beginning of the Eastside Poetry Slam! at H.D. Woodson Senior High School, Gregory Hawkins enters the auditorium filled with anticipation. He can’t wait to see Taylor’s Anne Beers team take the stage to perform their 5-minute piece of original poems.

While Taylor enjoys the soccer aspect of DC SCORES, she’s passionate about writing poetry. This is her first year in the program, and she’s already taken to writing poems at home. She carries her poetry journal everywhere.

“Me and my wife were looking at all the poems and every creative one, off the top of her head, just what she sees,” Hawkins says. “She can really put something together. She talks more about the family and what’s going on with us (in her journal).”

As is often the case with DC SCORES participants, once Taylor began expressing herself consistently through the Power of Poetry curriculum she became more engaged in school. She now reads more, and her father notes that the fourth-grader is reading at a fifth-grade level.

No longer does he have to tell her to do her homework or turn off the TV.

“She’s eager to do homework, reading,” Hawkins says. “You can find her just putting up a book, and they love going to the library. So I really appreciate DC SCORES for all of that."

Hawkins says that before this year, Taylor lacked an outlet for expressing herself. She was too timid to open up about what she was feeling. “She didn’t have anything to occupy that space,” he adds.

Now her grades are up, she loves to read, and she demonstrates great pride as she takes the stage with her teammates during the Poetry Slam!. Taylor is also setting an example for her younger sister Morgan, who is in first grade and, Gregory says, will hopefully be in a DC SCORES uniform, too, soon!


As we near the end of the year, DC SCORES needs your help. Any donation you make before Dec. 31 will help provide that creative outlet for self-expression and opportunity for physical fitness that thousands of students such as Taylor have benefited from — but still thousands more don’t have.

Please give and share today!

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