Up2Us Sports’ member organization America SCORES combines poetry and soccer as the foundation of their youth development programming. Their three-step model has proven successful and has been replicated in more than 150 public and charter schools in 14 major cities across the country: 1 - Create teams through the sport of soccer;
2 - Bring the teams into the classroom to discover their voices through poetry;
3 - As a team they use their voices to make change in their communities.
Poet-Athletes, as participants in America SCORES programs are called, write pieces to perform poetry slam-style. Two children from each America SCORES chapter are chosen to represent their city in the Annual America SCORES National Poetry SLAM. Ashalyn, a 10-year old who attends P.S. 173 in Harlem was selected to represent New York City at this years slam with her poem, “Water”. We spoke with Ashalyn about writing poetry, being a SCORES poet-athlete and participating in the National Poetry SLAM!
Up2Us Sports: How long have you been part of the America SCORES New York program here at PS 173?
Ashalyn: About a year and a half.
Up2Us Sports: What is your favorite part about it?
Ashalyn: My favorite part is that we get to play soccer, we have a lot of fun.
Up2Us Sports: What about poetry? When did you start writing poetry, and did you do it before joining SCORES?
Ashalyn: Yes, since I was little. I make up songs! When I’m writing my poems it’s like I’m making up songs.
Up2Us Sports: What’s your favorite part about writing poetry and making up songs?
Ashalyn: The rhythm—I come up with music and tunes to go with the lyrics.
Up2Us Sports: When you found out you were selected as the girl to represent SCORES New York at the National Poetry SLAM! How did you feel?
Ashalyn: Happy, excited, proud of myself and nervous.
Up2Us Sports: How many other girls did you compete against to win?
Ashalyn: More than 20, including my friends.
Up2Us Sports: What was it like representing all of SCORES New York on a national stage?
Ashalyn: It was surprising and I felt very proud of myself. I just felt nervous, because it’s ME representing America SCORES New York.
Up2Us Sports: What was your favorite part about performing on a national stage, competing against others from around the country?
Ashalyn: The group poem! We got to wear some glasses and look cool, and were like “words can change the world!” (Note: these are lyrics from their group poem.)
Up2Us Sports: What would you tell other kids - kids that you know, or might not know - who might want to try writing poetry but are too scared?
Ashalyn: Believe in themselves. I would tell them that poetry is natural, because poetry is explaining someone’s feelings or explaining something around you. Everybody can do it if you believe in yourself.
Up2Us Sports: Do you think your songwriting and poetry writing helps you in other school in other subject areas?
Ashalyn: Yes, in music, and in concentrating.
Up2Us Sports: I know America SCORES focuses on both soccer and poetry – how does soccer help you in your poetry writing…or how does your poetry writing help you in soccer?
Ashalyn: Yes, soccer helps me write poetry because, it’s like I’m saying things, when I’m writing a poem I’m just explaining my experience. When I start to write poems, I think of my soccer games, and I think of if we won. When we win, I don’t try to say “we won!” but I try to explain it in the poem.
America SCORES, is a part of the Up2Us Sports coalition, a group of over 1,000 grassroots organizations that use sports to improve the lives of at-risk youth.