Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Message from DCAYA Board Member and Executive Director of DC Scores Amy Nakamoto

With election season upon us, some of the District’s key issues for all of its constituents have taken center stage. Those issues have predominantly been education, public safety, economic and jobs development, and education (oh, did I already mention that?). While DC SCORES does not and will not endorse any one mayoral or council candidate over the other, we do feel this is the time to bring to light what is important for our participating poet-athletes.

As an after-school provider working intensively with 25 public and public charter elementary and middle schools in Wards 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, we believe strongly that a high-quality education should encompass well-rounded experiences that contribute to the formal and informal learning a student undertakes. For DC SCORES, this includes the opportunity to be active, creative, and part of a team in a non-formal school environment.

We feel that funding, policies, practices, and expectations at all levels of District government should not impede, rather enhance, our (or any other quality program’s) ability to provide a transformative experience for youth in the critical after-school hours. Youth spend more time out of school than in, which must not be overlooked when thinking about what youth most need to develop into functioning, educated, contributing adults.

An example of such a policy is the recently passed Healthy Schools Act (HSA). The act mandates, among other things, that over the next several years schools modify and enhance the opportunity for physical activity by changing formal physical education, expanding sport offerings, and/or including physical activity in after-school programs.

This Council-led bill passed in late spring 2010. In order for something as important as this piece of legislation to be realized, the Mayor’s office and the Council need to support funding and policies in accordance with this act. It is what is right for youth’s health, and their growing minds and bodies. This is just one example of what is important to DC SCORES.

Broadly, DC SCORES has the ability to thrive, expand, and increase our impact on the community in a District that is forward-thinking, resourceful, and collaborative. Changes and improvements to all systems (education, safety, and economy) impact directly or indirectly thousands of District youth every day.

Since youth can’t vote, I’d like to push our supporters to think hard about the policies and decisions made on a District level that will make the youth experience in DC a worthwhile one.

-- Written by Amy Nakamoto, Executive Director, DC Scores

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