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Monday, March 9, 2015

DC SCORES participant and alumna star on Aspen Institute panel

"I think my game talks for that."

That was the line of the day from Madalin G. at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit on Feb. 25. Madalin, 13, an eighth-grader at Lincoln Middle School, was responding to a question from panel moderator Allyson Felix, an Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter, about showing people that she can play soccer as a girl.

It was just one highlight from the day, during which Madalin and Erin B., a DC SCORES alumna, spoke alongside other youth sports participants as well as policy experts. The goal of the summit was to share ideas about how to get more youth engaged positively in sport and stay involved. Having kids speak about their ongoing experiences was a great idea.

Madalin and Erin had plenty to share.

Madalin, speaking on the panel 'What Good Looks Like in Youth Sports' alongside Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis and two other youth, spoke about the importance of her coaches and peers. She told the audience that she was nervous when she first joined the DC SCORES team was ridiculed for being a girl and playing soccer.

The support her coaches and peers provided helped Madalin overcome that obstacle, and now everyone knows she can play. All they have to do is watch her.

"It's always that one person that's going to help you out, that's going to teach you," Madalin said, "and most of that time, that is your coach or best friend that is on the team."

Erin, who participated in DC SCORES for six years -- beginning in third grade at Arts and Technology Academy and continuing through eighth grade at Cesar Chavez Parkside Charter School -- was on a panel called 'Ask Kids What They Want.' Erin was the only kid on the panel, sharing the stage with policy expert Amanda Visek of George Washington Public Health, John West of Whistle Sports, and Eli Wolff of the Inclusive Sports Initiative.

Moderator Gary Hall Jr., a 10-time Olympic gold medalist, asked Erin what she wants in a sports program.

"What I want is a program that is going to be engaging and show (me) more beneficial things I can do in my life," Erin said. "I want to see what college opportunities they can give me and what social opportunities they can give me, like what other kids outside of my school I can talk to, what other programs are out there for me."

Erin took advantage of the opportunities to discover new interests and grow through DC SCORES and believes more program that are available for all youth are needed.

Erin was asked to describe her experience in DC SCORES, and she talked about how she joined the program in third grade and not only began playing soccer regularly but discovered a passion for poetry.

"It helped me become a better scholar because in class they set certain standards for you to have certain grades and to stay focused," Erin said of her DC SCORES coaches.

Both poet-athletes were engaging on their respective panels and made a tremendous impression on audience members. They were heard, and their ideas won't be forgotten as policy decisions are made going forward about how to get more youth involved and enjoying playing sports.

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