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DC SCORES helps low-income youth succeed through afterschool program

An afterschool program put together by DC SCORES combines soccer, poetry and community service year-round. The best part? The program is free! (ABC7)

On the playing field at Tubman Elementary School in Northwest, Washington, more than 50 students from the school and nearby Lincoln Multicultural Middle School hold soccer practice.

Most wouldn't get this opportunity if not for the nonprofit organization DC SCORES and its unique afterschool program. The free year-round afterschool program combines soccer with poetry and community service.

Says DC SCORES Executive Director Bethany Henderson, "The real magic of what we do is that combination of building that team."

That's because the players' teammates are also their classmates, and the coaches are their teachers or individuals in their community. Among them, longtime coach Mark Lewis, better know as "Popsie."

Coach Popsie admits he can be strict but he says, "My overall message is just try to be a better person each and every day."

Helping to instill that positive message is DC United Goalie Travis Worra, who volunteers with DC SCORES during his free time.

Worra started playing soccer as a youth on neighborhood fields.

"Any number of future teammates of mine could honestly be out here So I'm happy to lend my hands as much as I can," says Worra.

For the young student-athletes, the lessons learned on the playing field are making an impact.

"You gotta have good grades and you gotta behave good in school, and cause of that I'm acting good," says 12-year-old William Joya.

"Try your best to do that. Don't give up so easily and stuff," adds 12-year-old Fatiya Hassan.

Eleven-year-old Mamadou Diabate says, "Even though if you mess up, you get to still keep on trying and keep on doing your best."

Of youth in the program, more than 90 percent said they see themselves as role models and leaders and all were confident they will graduate from high school.

"We're really trying to lay the groundwork for kids to develop those critical life skills that they need to succeed," explains Henderson.

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