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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Service-learning 2014: H.D. Cooke Elementary students feels empowered to fight homelessness

Written by Kara Dunford
Communications Intern

“When you’re in DC SCORES, you definitely get things done. That’s my favorite part.”

Fourth-grader Aniya S. and the H.D. Cooke Bulls are well on their way to getting things done this season.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the elementary school to witness the DC SCORES service-learning curriculum in action.

In the first few weeks of the season, the Bulls participated in different lessons to help them gain greater awareness of the problems facing their community, including a walk to observe the issues firsthand. Two of the Bulls, Aniya and fellow fourth-grader William P., explained to me that this activity was critical in their selection of a focus issue for their project.

“First, we started thinking about the trash,” Aniya said. “We took a walk outside and we had pens and pads and were writing down about the trash. And that’s good, because trash is polluting the earth. But we decided that helping the homeless would be more useful.”

The Bulls had chosen an issue area. Next, it was time to narrow their focus. The team got to work researching ways to help, and considering whether they wanted their project to be a donation or a fundraiser.

It was an empowering experience for William, who learned that even as an elementary school student he could be part of the solution.

“Instead of just sitting there, we can do something and help other people who don’t have food or jobs,” he said.

To help the Bulls develop their ideas and finalize their project, the team made a visit to Martha’s Table to learn more about their chosen issue. In the coming weeks, the Bulls will finish project planning and move into the action phase of the service-learning season.

“We’re getting ideas, but after this we have to really get our ideas out there and do what we want to accomplish,” William said.

I asked the two students to fast-forward and think about what they hope to accomplish when the spring season comes to an end.

“I hope that we achieve that we did this for something and we helped the homeless,” William said.

Aniya had a broader vision of success.

“I was hoping by the end of this project, I can be known as one of the people who can help other people,” she said.

My afternoon with the H.D. Cooke Bulls was a window into the power service-learning has to enable DC SCORES students to become more engaged citizens of their community. As the students take ownership of their projects, they grow within DC SCORES’ core values: teamwork, leadership and commitment.

William said that’s what he likes about being part of DC SCORES.

“We don’t just play soccer. We can help other people in our community, too.”

Watch the video above (and here) to hear more from the Bulls. Follow along this spring as we visit schools across the city working on service-learning projects using the hashtag #servicelearning14.

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