DC poet-athletes prepare to unleash creativity in virtual poetry showcase, despite coronavirus crisis

They are voices that need to be heard, and not even the coronavirus pandemic will stop them.

They are the poet-athletes from the after school program DC SCORES, which serves kids in the District from schools in low-income neighborhoods.

On Thursday, the poet-athletes from DC SCORES will unleash their creativity in spoken word in the virtual poetry showcase “Our Words Our City.”

Instead of receiving recognition from a live audience, the poet-athletes will be seeking support from people who log on to the program’s website.

The show is expected to run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and all donations to DC SCORES during the event will be equally matched with contributions from the organization’s sponsors.

“When the kids are writing, they are writing about their truths, the things that they see, the things that they feel,” said Charity Blackwell, DC SCORES director of creative arts and education.

“It is a very powerful and a vulnerable experience for them, and so even through the virtual showcase you will be able to feel their passion and emotions.” Blackwell said.

For over two decades, DC SCORES has combined soccer, poetry and service learning to help provide a healthy foundation for kids in underserved areas.

The organization hires and trains teachers to run the program at their schools and in effect provides each student with direct access to a trusted mentor.

“I think we really approach the child fully in the healthiest way possible,” Blackwell said.

“They are able to come and get the physical education they need and then they are able to take care of themselves mentally.”

“They are able to use paper to transfer their emotions on to a sheet and have those emotions in a place that is safe, so they don’t act out in any other way that might be a harm to themselves or anyone around them.” Blackwell said.

The consistent connection DC SCORES has had with its kids has led to confident students and countless success stories in adulthood.

Even with schools closed, DC SCORES has found creative ways to stay engaged with its poet-athletes, including an “At Home Poetry Challenge” kicked off by Washington Spirit legend Joanna Lohman and a series of skills videos from U.S. men’s national team player Tyler Boyd.

Our Words Our City will provide a meaningful end to National Poetry Month.

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“All the donations to DC SCORES will help our ongoing effort to help kids feel safe, supported, connected and hopeful,” Blackwell said.

“The words will be powerful, the feelings are raw, and these are the voices of our youth, you should want to hear what they have to say and how you can help them.”

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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