Creating Teams from Home
The 26th season of fall SCORES will undoubtedly be unlike any other fall season before, but as the seasons change and everyone continues to stay home due to COVID-19, our goal to keep kids feeling safe, supported, connected, and hopeful remains the same. We continue to celebrate kids.
The season kicked off last week, our coaches are leading practices virtually. In partnership with our poet-athletes, families, principals, and coaches we learned from the virtual programming of the spring and summer to develop the fall plan. The exciting differences for this season are all the new and improved features and structures that we learned from the spring and summer.
During our SCORES at Home Summer Camps we mailed out special camper kits to every kid that registered with every item they needed to participate. Additionally, the camp was stacked with special guests from former and current professional athletes like Staci Wilson, Bill Hamid and Chris Odoi-Astem, as well as Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, FreeQuency and D.C. United professional eSports athlete, Mohamed “KingCJ0” Alioune Diop.
The summer also hosted an additional camp tailored for our participants that wanted to hone their poetry skills. The first-ever Our Words Our City camp included daily sessions catered to improving the campers writing and performance abilities. Campers also had the incredible opportunity to participate in workshops led by amazing spoken word artists like World Poetry Slam Champion, Porsha O and award-winning poet and actor, Carvens Lissaint, who starred as George Washington in the Tony Award-winning musical HAMILTON. Additionally, every writing camp participant was supplied with an iPad thanks to a generous DC SCORES supporter!
As we prepared for the fall season, our staff recognized the need to eliminate any barriers our poet-athletes might face, which included sending out all equipment and supplies necessary to fully take advantage of the virtual season. DC SCORES staff and volunteers, including various players from the Washington Spirit took on the challenge to fully pack more than 1,000 equipment kits and mail them out to each registered participant. Every single kit includes a DC SCORES t-shirt and mask, soccer ball, disc cones, hand pump, water bottle, pencils, journal and more!
DC SCORES recognizes that the fall won’t look like a regular DC SCORES season but the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a team is more important than ever. In a year of unprecedented turmoil, change, and uncertainty, the sense of belonging and connections DC SCORES provides is critical. We redesigned our curriculum so our poet-athletes can find ways to celebrate each other and write about social justice through poetry. DC SCORES recognizes the importance of allowing kids to find their voice and express their feelings and we want to make sure that we’re celebrating that. We designed a custom, bilingual (English and Spanish) journal for our poet-athlete to use this season. Each journal is filled with fun pages so kids can express themselves, track their soccer skills progress, and write down their questions for our special celebrity guests.
We designed this season with the feedback shared by almost 400 of our families and more than 100 coaches. Everything from the timing of sessions to the type of sessions that would be the most engaging for poet-athletes all came from families and coaches. One thing was clear: the importance of providing a safe space for kids to interact with each other and to continue building positive relationships is crucial.
Thanks to all of that insightful feedback, the fall SCORES season will follow these basic parameters:
- 11 week season (September 8 – November 20)
- 2-3 sessions per week
- Programs will be conducted virtually via the schools’ preferred live-video platform
- DC SCORES will host three high-profile guest speakers for a live SCORES Speaker Series (an enhancement to core virtual programming).
One of the opportunities we are able to take advantage of while we are all virtual is the inclusion of high profile guests in our sessions. It’s not every day that D.C. United Head Coach, Ben Olsen, can interact with our poet-athletes over a Zoom call. It’s also not common for Marjann Naderi, D.C. Youth Poet Laureate, Carlynn Newhouse, third place winner of the Women of the World Poetry Slam, and Jacob Mayberry, National Poetry Slam winner, to work side by side with our writing coaches during their sessions for an entire fall season.
Another priority for us this season is to reward the work of our poet-athletes and teams. The DC SCORES staff designed the SCORES Rewards incentive program to encourage and celebrate the progress of every participant this fall. Poet-athletes will have the opportunity to collect a variety of prizes from DC SCORES swag to having a celebrity special guest join this for their team practice.
Lastly, we plan on wrapping up the fall season with a documentary that will feature the America SCORES Regional Poetry Slams. Poet-athletes from all over the country and Canada were slated to participate in the National Slam Final at the Kennedy Center in March, but due to COVID-19, the plans have changed but the celebration of our talented poet-athletes will still go on. Our Words Our Cities will make its debut on Amazon Prime Video later this year. In the meantime, we need your help to support the DC representative, Tyreze S., formerly of Aiton Elementary School and now Leckie Education Campus, to win the Viewer’s Choice Award – VOTE HERE!
As we continue to navigate through the ever-changing landscape of our world, DC SCORES remains committed to making sure that the voice of every child in DC is heard, and that they all have a safe, supportive team to call their own.