While most will agree that the current traditional structure of public school systems in many parts of the world is outmoded and doesn’t equip children and youth with the required skill set for our current or future millennium, most will also agree that the anticipated shift in the system will take long before it occurs.
The glacial pace of the traditional education system does not go hand in hand with the rapid global economic shifts and uncertainties, and while many private schools and non-traditional school systems such as Montessori and International Baccalaureate offer programs that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world, only a few children will have the privilege of being in these programs.
What happens to the rest of the population that can’t afford to send their kids to such schools? Will these children actually develop the confidence, self-esteem and physical and emotional health they need to be able to thrive in this current world we live in? Will they be able to make it safe in their poverty struck crime-driven neighborhoods without having mentors whom they can trust and freely express themselves to? Will they graduate to fall in the ranks of the unemployed and disenfranchised?
The narrative is not entirely negative, because slowly, families are realizing the tremendous significance of quality after-school programs as an alternative because of the activities they can provide that are unorthodox to the traditional school system
An ideal after-school program should integrate physical, mental, social and emotional growth for children and youth, and fortunately all these elements can actually be found in one unique organization, DC SCORES.
What is the story of DC SCORES?
Today’s proud partner of D.C. United actually started 22 years ago, when a former teacher at Marie Reed Learning Center, Julie Kennedy, began working with a group of 15 girls with little to do after school by combining complementary activities. Ms. Kennedy learned that the team-centered relationships built on the soccer field translated into poetry workshops, and the development of teamwork and leadership prepared students to act as agents of change in their communities through service-learning projects.
The program quickly expanded throughout DC, then to Boston and Chicago, and in 1999 developed into America SCORES. The nationally, award-winning program has spread to 13 sites across the United States and Canada: Bay Area, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New England, New York, Portland, St. Louis, Seattle, Vancouver, and Washington, DC.
What makes DC SCORES Special?
DC SCORES helps thousands of low-income kids succeed on the playing field, in school, and in life through its school-based, team-based, whole child programming — delivered through free after-school programs and summer camps facilitated by trained youth development professionals. DC SCORES intentionally integrates soccer, poetry, and service-learning to help 3rd-8th graders throughout the District build physical fitness, find their voice, improve their literacy, increase school engagement, and strengthen ties to their community.
DC SCORES currently serves 2,200 students between the ages of 8 and 15 at 60 schools and recreation centers across the eight wards of Washington, DC, and 16 schools are currently on the waiting list for this high-quality program.
The unique program DC SCORES offers to these students at no cost helps them develop physical skills and reduce the risk of obesity and diseases related to it while also making friends, developing teambuilding and leadership skills, having fun, learning to play fair, and improving their self-esteem through soccer. Poetry serves as a platform for students to express themselves fearlessly while gaining emotional support and help from their coaches and friends and developing literacy and writing skills. And service-learning creates a bond between the students and their communities, allows them to analyze issues within their communities and brainstorm and creating solutions to tackle these issues.
DC SCORES hires and trains motivated DC Public School teachers to run the program at their schools, thus providing each student with direct access to a trusted mentor. DC SCORES also provides free and fun summer camps for children, and winter nutrition programs to help the students develop healthy eating habits.
To these children, DC SCORES changed their lives and parents and teachers continue to notice the massive improvements in the children’s character, behavior and skills. Imagine the DC SCORES program expanding to all public and charter schools across the District. Imagine how powerful, confident and skilled the generations that receive DC SCORES programming would be! DC SCORES truly embodies the values needed to be instilled in children in order for them to thrive in today’s rapidly shifting world.
Make sure to stay up to date with all things DC SCORES and get involved at www.DCSCORES.org, and on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Blogspot, Flickr and LinkedIn