Cultivating Creative Connections Through Art and Spoken Word: DC SCORES Volunteer Spotlight on T.L. Barwick

1-14faf9.png Tracy L. Barwick is one of DC SCORES’ most dedicated volunteers.

Every year, DC SCORES serves more than 3,000 D.C. kids through its soccer, poetry, and service-learning program. As part of the program, the nonprofit hosts numerous community events — from soccer tournaments to poetry slams — that would not be possible without the dedication of its volunteers.

Volunteers are at the core of the DC SCORES community, serving in various roles around the District. Meet T.L. Barwick, a DMV-based artist and one of DC SCORES’ most dedicated volunteers.

When did you first become involved with DC SCORES?

I believe it was a year and a half ago. I just happened to see a post on Instagram about kids and soccer, and I was just like, holy smokes! I was so intrigued. I was also seeing tidbits of DC SCORES everywhere. All these little entities I was associated with. So, I went to the DC SCORES website and applied to volunteer. I first started volunteering at a poetry slam at Roosevelt [High School], and then I started volunteering at the big soccer events.

When did you initially develop an interest in poetry and the arts? You’re an artist. How does that inform what organizations you work for in the DMV area?

I’m more of a visual artist, but I’ve always been interested in spoken word. I moved here from Dayton, Ohio, in 1995. And when I moved here, the music I was listening to expanded. I would go through the city paper, and I would just scour D.C. looking for these spoken word artists.

Fast forward to now, seeing these poet-athletes with all their energy, doing something that I can’t do or have the skills to do in terms of putting words in an art form. I always try to support those organizations that [give them those skills]!

Who or where do you draw your inspiration and creativity from?

I never followed an artist when I first started creating, but as I learned more and started delving into artists, I followed Bing Davis. He’s a gem from Dayton, Ohio, and Central State University, which is an HBCU [historically black colleges and universities]. When I moved to the DMV area, my knowledge of art and music expanded and exploded. When I saw the art on the street, it inspired me.

3-50d9a1.png Barwick is a professional artist whose work draws inspiration from African cultural traditions. Encouraging young people to tap into their own creativity is one of the things she loves most about volunteering with DC SCORES!

How would you describe your artistic style?

I work with beads on canvas. I like African art and African masks. I always learn about what I’m wanting to create. When I create artwork, I highlight a style that shows the old with the new. I merge the past with the present style.

What is the most rewarding part of working with DC SCORES?

Definitely the kids. When I first learned about DC SCORES, I was intrigued because the kids were able to do something that is educational and helps their well-being. To learn how to speak, project, and be in front of an audience of people. I mean, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to be a part of this.

When I was a curator assistant at Busboys & Poets, I attended my very first poetry slam and saw the poet-athletes in the hallway preparing to go on stage to recite their spoken word on the mic. I’ve never experienced a program that allows kids the opportunity to spit out some words that meant something to them. It’s cool!

What do you hope the poet-athletes learn and gain under your guidance and teaching?

I want to help them mold the words they want to say so that when they go to speak to someone, they know how to use their words correctly. I want to be able to fine-tune the conversations they have or the things that they say and help them be able to express themselves.

What events do you spend most of your time volunteering at? Why do you enjoy those events?

The soccer Jamborees — those are the events that I’ve volunteered at the most. I get there for the first shift, which is at around 7:00–7:30 in the morning. I think a shift is typically like 4 hours, and I’m there to the end.

The last time I volunteered at Jamboree, I got to be the coach of a team because their coach needed help. I was able to be a team player and give them direction. The incorporation of the teamwork in the responsibilities of what you do on the field, that was one of the best parts.

Afterward, I took some leftover food [from Jamboree lunch] to a local church. (DC SCORES said I could do that!) I left to go feed the homeless. To me, that was a great day!

2-4a5318.png Barwick enjoys a performance in the Busboys and Poets Poetry Lounge at One Night One Goal.

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