DC SCORES’ winter season takes place over 8 weeks, at select DC SCORES schools across the District. During this break from the regular soccer, creative writing, and service-learning progaming, AmeriCorps members teach youth about healthy eating and how to navigate the aisles of a grocery store using the USDA’s Power of Choice curriculum. Aside from the knowledge and skills students gain during Power of Choice, they continue to form positive relationships with their peers and coaches, and stay active during the time of year when many youth resort to eating larger portions of unhealthier foods and spend their after school time at home on the couch.
The DC SCORES winter session came to an end on Friday, February 22. On one of the final days of programming, I joined the Thomson Tigers as they reflected on best practices and lessons learned:
I sit down with Stephanie, as she waits her turn to warm up. She tells me she's improved in her dribbling abilities, and she’s better at passing back and forth. I ask her for advice — if she were to pass on one recommendation, gleaned from her experience during the Power of Choice program, what would it be?
“I’d say, get healthy, get energy-ed, get exercise.”
I get a sense of that energy when, a moment later, Coach Marco blows his whistle and Stephanie takes off, running the entire span of the gym within 30 seconds.
Just watching her tires me out. I clearly need to get “energy-ed.”
During the team break for water, I ask Daniel C. if he's changed since the beginning of Winter SCORES. He thinks for a moment.
"I'm taller," he reflects.
"Is that because of all the healthy food?" I ask.
"Yeah … the broccoli."
I ask Daniel if he has any recommendations for a healthier lifestyle, any major takeaways from the season.
"People have to look at the back of what they’re buying … you have to eat more healthy things.”
Luis has changed, too — some of his habits are different today, thanks to the Power of Choice program.
"I don't drink so much pop. I drink a lot of water now. I'm a better soccer player too."
Just in time for spring training, Sebastian's learned that teamwork is the way to go.
"We can do more together than we can do by ourselves," he explains. "It's better to work together."
The Tigers have improved their soccer skills, developed their notion of teamwork, and expanded their understanding of nutrition to best fuel up for the field. From where I'm sitting, (on the bleachers, avoiding the ball) they've built a strong team that is well prepared and ready to take on the toughest competition.
Their hard work has made me want to change, too, and shown me the value of taking small steps to being a healthier person and teammate. In this spirit, before we leave, I ask these experts to advise me on the healthiest way to spend my evening.
"Get exercise, and you'll be more energized," Juan Carlos says.
As for dinner?
"Vegetables .. .tomatoes and broccoli," says Daniel. "A medium amount."
Juan Carlos adds, “Apples, bananas, grapefruits … a lot of fruit.”
A final suggestion from Luis: “soup with vegetables, maybe some chicken. And carrot juice.”
I take notes. Shopping list in hand, my night becomes exponentially more nutritious. With knowledge and practical know-how like that, it’s clear the spring soccer and service-learning season will be successful for the Thomson Tigers. In just a couple short weeks, they’ll be back on the field putting the winter session of preparation into action.
I can’t wait to see them shine some more.
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