Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the year 2020 we learned that keeping in touch with useful information has become more important than it ever was before.  One way we are striving to keep all our supporters informed about the SCORES program is by starting a blog. This blog will be your main source of information for more about our programming, events, board members, and staff members. For this first post we will answer the question: what is America SCORES?

The America SCORES program began in Washington D.C. in 1994 with a public-school teacher by the name of Julie Kennedy. Julie Kennedy sought to provide her students with an effective afterschool program when she noticed that her students were hanging out after school with nothing to do. She used her own experience as an athlete and began to teach the students soccer after school. During the winter her students still showed up so she turned to her other passion, poetry. Over time she eventually added a community service aspect that completed the tri-curricular approach we still use in the program today.

The program model quickly spread to more schools and out to new cities, including Cleveland, Ohio in 2004. Since the beginning, our mission has been to inspire Cleveland youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world.  We stay true to this mission by continuing to use soccer, poetry, and service learning to help our poet-athletes grow.

When we describe our program and state that we combine soccer and poetry, we always get the question: how does that work and why soccer and poetry specifically?

Soccer is a popular sport that requires minimal equipment, all you truly need is a soccer ball and an open space to run. Soccer allows our poet-athletes to engage in vigorous activity with other youth while learning the value of teamwork, sportsmanship, and discipline as they participate in a fantastic platform that encourages fitness and a healthy lifestyle. During traditional programming poet-athletes have two day of soccer practice and end the week with a game against other schools in the program.

Poetry and creative thinking promote problem solving and instills public speaking skills. Poet-athletes are given the opportunity to explore moments and causes that are important to them in a safe space. They learn how to use writing to express emotions and deal with emotionally charged experiences in a positive and safe way. Throughout the Fall season our poet-athletes learn the foundations of poetry and work together as a team to write an original poem which is performed at our annual Poetry SLAM.

Through service-learning our poet-athletes learn how to connect with their communities. Through completing student-led team community service projects during the Spring season, they learn compassion, social responsibility, and personal worth. They also develop leadership skills and learn how to work with their peers.

The SCORES program is multifaceted, and we strive to help our poet-athletes continue to grow in a variety of ways. To hear more about our programs, events, and student accomplishments follow us on our social media accounts; Facebook (America SCORES Cleveland), Twitter (@SCORESCleveland), Instagram (@americascorescleveland) and Linkedin (America SCORES Cleveland).