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Monday, April 21, 2014

$10,000 could change the lives of 10 DC youth

A few of the Wheatley Whales waiting for the bus to the
2010 DC SCORES Fall Frenzy.
Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

We've done A LOT of asking lately. Thanks to the support of many, we reached our Couch to Camp Campaign goal and will be able to provide free summer enrichment for more than 250 DC youth. Some of you have also contributed poems for our blog during National Poetry Month.

But before April's over, we have one final ask -- and it couldn't be simpler.

Help DC SCORES win $10,000. 

Today through Friday at 5pm, we are competing against similarly sized DC charities in the WTOP Click for a Cause competition. Whichever charity receives the most "likes" on the campaign page wins.

(NOTES: Only one vote per person total; you must be on Facebook to vote; you do not have to "like" WTOP or do anything else to participate -- it's that easy.)


Let me put it into tangible terms: That's DC SCORES' full, year-long program -- the soccer, the poetry, the service-learning, the summer camp -- for 10 low-income DC youth.

When I think of the number 10, I reflect on one of my most memorable experiences during five years at DC SCORES. In October of 2010, I was asked to fill in as the coach at Wheatley Education Campus for our annual Fall Frenzy soccer and outdoor activities event.

I had no idea how the day would go or even if kids would show up to spend Saturday with a strange, unfamiliar man. But upon approaching the school around 8am, there they were -- a group of 10 third- and fourth-graders decked out in their purple DC SCORES shirts. Within a minute, we were taking photos together and kidding around like old friends.

I was far from the best soccer coach -- keeping everyone happy is a challenge! -- but I could tell from the kids' smiles and laughter that they had a good time and, despite their overwhelmed coach, learned a few things. I wrote about it in my event recap.

That was far from my only experience at Wheatley, which began the DC SCORES program in 2009. While my job is mostly office-based, during the following years I went to more Wheatley soccer game days than any other school. Every time I visited the school in the Trinidad neighborhood, those same 10 kids were there.

Not only did they grow inches between each of my visits, their soccer skills improved as did their attitudes. The fifth-graders I watched at a game last spring were exponentially better at dribbling the ball, sharing it with their teammates, and being leaders of their team than the kids I coached that 2010 afternoon. The boys team even made it to the City Cup championship game at last June's Jamboree!.

This fall, the Wheatley 10 were too old to play on the DC SCORES team, but they were still present at game day. They loved the program so much and the game they learned through it that they couldn't stay away, so the coaches made them assistants. As I watched them, I could see how much they wanted to be on the field -- but they also demonstrated DC SCORES' core values of teamwork, leadership and commitment by encouraging the current players, handing out water, and giving high fives.

DC SCORES gave those Wheatley students a team, and they ran with it and built a sense of pride and community at the school. At my most recent game day, close to 100 fans sat on the hillside above the school's field to watch the soccer team.

So when I think of what providing DC SCORES for 10 kids mean, I immediately think of those Wheatley students. There are 1,500 youth (150 x 10) served annually by our Arts/Athletics/Academics model, and winning $10,000 this week will help the program continue to grow and achieve our vision of serving every child in Washington, DC, deserving of a team.

Here are three ways you can be a $10K Champion this week:

Thanks for being on our growing team!

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