A New S.M.A.R.T. Connection

March 16, 2012

This week our Executive Director, Antonio Scott, spoke to a group of 7th and 8th graders at Tilden Middle School in Rockville, MD.  These students participate in a minority scholars after-school program.  The main purpose of this visit by our ED was to speak about and turn these students onto careers in the sports industry.  “The main focus was to open the students minds up to the many different jobs that exist within the sports world and that they exist on so many different levels from youth sports to high school sports and from college sports to professional sports” said Mr. Scott.

Another goal of the speech was to show the students how the sports world is connected to things that they see and read about in the news every single day.  Also, a social view of the sports world and how it connects to so many other work industries.  “I think the students learned a few things that they may not have known before, which was one of my goals” said Mr. Scott.  A highlight of the day was when one of the students, who wants to become an Anthropologist when she graduates college years down the road, discovered that even anthropology has a connection with sports.  Mr. Scott spoke about how the Olympic games were originally created to have athletes represent their countries and cultures in athletic skills competitions.  He spoke about how athletes from certain climates tend to perform better in certain sports.  This grabbed the student’s attention and gave her a new found liking for sports.

In an attempt to create a social network between minority students from around the Washington, DC metro area, Antonio will be visiting several middle schools around the metro area for the next two months to create interest in the program for the 2012-13 school year.  He intensely added, “This will be a great program to get minority students from different areas of the city and surrounding areas connected socially, which will help make them well-rounded students!”

Thanksgiving and Community

 November 23, 2011

 Yesterday our organization was able to be a part of the Thanksgiving Drive held by the  Leadership for Life Foundation.  Leadership For Life is the Foundation of Washington Redskins  Safety LaRon Landry.  The foundation partners with Sasha Bruce Youthwork and Whole Foods  Market to provide 500 turkeys and dinner items to residents of under-served and low income  areas of D.C.  It’s great to see a professional athlete who gives his time and resources to provide a Thanksgiving Day meal to families who may not be able to provide the meal themselves because of rough financial times.

In our programs we remind our students that it is important to be more involved in their communities in a positive way.  Also, we teach that this can be done in many different ways.  Most of the time a student may respond by saying “Don’t we need money to help out the neighborhood?”  Although we get what they are trying to say, we teach them that some of the ways they can be involved their communities in a positive way is by simply doing what they are supposed to be doing in the first place, without large amounts of money:

  1. Attend school every day
  2. Develop good study habits
  3. Pay attention to your teachers and school administrators
  4. Keep a positive attitude about education

The good thing about teaching this to youth in our after-school programs is that they are the same principles that apply to being a good athlete in the community.  Either as a school athlete or a recreational athlete, the principles are pretty much the same:

  1. Attend practices every day
  2. Develop good practice habits
  3. Pay attention to your coaches and parents
  4. Keep a positive attitude about sports

This is important because most of the students and athletes in our programs aspire to be in the position that LaRon is in today.  Those dreams and visions are excellent to have!  However, we teach youth that there are many ways to get to that point but also remind them that you don’t have to be a pro athlete in order to help out their community.  We hope they strive to become great leaders by practicing the basic principles that we teach and become a model citizen in life.

Who is Covering Sports?

 The Press Box at stadiums across the country remains heavily dominated by white males.  Minority  persons make up 12% of all sports columnist nationally, 13% of all sports reporters nationally, and  only 6% of all editors nationally.  This raises the question: In today’s society of “Twitter and  Facebook” fame, why aren’t more minority youth interested in a career in sports journalism?

The reason we ask that question is because youth today, as well as adults, get their news on sports figures and events from social media.  Yes, I know that’s hard to believe but it’s true.  Most of you  that are reading this post are guilty of this too.  No, you are not doing anything wrong people.   The fact  is a smart phone today has more power and technology than the very first computer invented.  Technology has evolved over the past 2 decades and so is how we use it…including how we cover sports figures and sporting events.

One activity that we are developing in our after-school programs, which is heavily filled with minority youth, is an introduction to Sports Journalism.  The goal is to raise the interest of our students in the area of sports journalism.  At the same time we can use this activity to help young people in our programs to advance their literacy and writing skills.

Keep On Pushing Tony

I am so glad that I have a lot of desire and drive in my heart.  More importantly, I am thankful for some of the people who remind me of that when I tend to forget sometimes.  Over the years there have been several moments were I thought I was not making any difference or reaching the youth that I was working with.  In the past when that happened I would always vent my frustrations to one of my friends and mentors, Bill Chain, and he would always shoot down the nonsense I was saying to him.  He would say “Tony, you’re crazy to think that these kids are not listening to you.  They love being around you and your energy, but more importantly they are listening to the life lessons you are teaching them through your love of sports.”  Bill would always stress that those 10, 11, and 12 year olds (back in 2004) would one day thank me for being a father figure in their lives and for always motivating and uplifting them each and every day.  I used to think he was crazy for saying I am crazy.

Fast forward to March earlier this year and I was having another one of those days when I couldn’t see the fruit of my work and the mission of the S.M.A.R.T. organization.  That day I am riding the Metrorail home thinking that I haven’t accomplished anything and that I need to start to shift my career focus.  Well out of the blue I hear a youngster call out “What’s up Coach Scott” and it happened to be one of the 11 year olds that I first started working with back in 2004 who are Seniors at Ballou High School here in Washington, DC.  My stop was coming up but I had enough time to exchange telephone numbers with the youngster.  That same evening I get a call from him.  We must have talked for at least a good hour.  In the middle of the conversation he starts to talk about how he and the rest of the boys miss me being around.  My reply to him was modest at best because I was always assured that they never listened to me and got tired of the old ball coach yelling at them and instilling discipline in their lives.  He could not disagree more.  He started to explain that since 2004-2005, when I first worked with them, he is now starting to see some of the lessons that I would try to teach he and the rest of the boys.  He explained that he sees a fight in school every day and usually it’s for no reason or a real stupid one.  He started to talk about how he wished he and the other boys didn’t give me such a hard time when I would try and get my points across to them about growing up in life and how education was important, etc.  The conversation was very reassuring for me!

Every time I am ready to give up because I can’t raise enough funds or I can’t get a program or project off the ground fast enough I think about those boys I first started working with back in 2004 and how a lot of what I was trying to teach them did sink in.  And I have to say I owe a lot of it to the simple words of encouragement Bill Chain would always say to me “Keep On Pushing Tony”.  Thanks Bill!!

S.M.A.R.T. Photos, Videos, and News

In today’s society there is a heavy usage and dependence on social media.  The young people of today have adapted to using Social Media just as much and in some cases, more proficiently than adults.  This is why we have chosen to utilize social media outlets to display the images of S.M.A.R.T., as well as express the weekly news of the organization.

We want the S.M.A.R.T. images and news feeds to help the organization connect not only with the general public but even more importantly with the young people that we work with in our programs.  By using the tools that our youth rely on daily to communicate with, we will be successful at grabbing and holding onto their attention.

Please check out our photo montages and videos of our after-school and summer camp programs on our Smarteryouthdc YouTube Channel.

Read our daily post from S.M.A.R.T. on Facebook and “Like” us.

Follow S.M.A.R.T. on twitter @smarteryouthdc.

S.M.A.R.T. Programs and Upcoming Events

Over the years we have had some great partnerships with organizations and schools in the District of Columbia, such as the Boys and Girls Club FBR Branch (Ward 8), Howard Road Academy Public Charter School (Ward 8), J.C. Nalle Elementary School (Ward 7), 21st Century Learning, and the National Center for Children and Families.  We have operated successful programs with these groups since 2006.  We continue to build and grow S.M.A.R.T. programs with these organizations during out of school time.  Our goal is to establish our programs in more schools and with more organizations geared toward advancing youth in the upcoming year.

Beginning in November 2011, S.M.A.R.T. will be added as an after-school program provider at the William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School (Ward 5).  The program will run from November through the Summer Camp program in July 2012. We are excited to have our program accepted at yet another school and we look forward to working with this new group of young people.   The program will be Arts Integration Education and Athletics/Recreation at the Elementary Age Group.  At the Middle School level, the program will be Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (S.T.E.M.) based with Athletics/Recreation.  S.M.A.R.T. will manage the schools participation in the Washington Charter Sports Athletic Association for Athletics/Recreation at both the Elementary and Middle School in addition to providing after-school and summer camp academic enrichment programs.

Stay tuned for regular updates, videos, and photos of and about S.M.A.R.T. programs throughout the school year and summer camps. Follow
us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for daily news and updates, photos, and videos as well.

What Makes S.M.A.R.T. Unique?

Over the years we have developed a unique curriculum for our after-school and summer camp programs.  What makes our curriculum and programs unique from similar non-profit organizations is how we fuse education, sports, community involvement, and life skills development for young people into each activity that we do.  While there are several organizations that do similar work to ours, we separate ourselves with the capability to adjust and tailor our programs to the specific wants and needs of the partnering school or group.

Being that our program focuses on “under-served” and “at-risk” youth in grades K-12, we have designed our curriculum and programs into stages.  At each stage the program activities get more intense and keeps each student engaged.  For example, at the K-1st grade levels, our students will be given basic introduction to sports terms and jargon which helps them develop early literacy and writing skills.

The program is more advanced at the middle school and high school levels. The feature activity at these stages is a simulated professional team operation project in which students are placed in groups of 4 or 5 and have to select a Team President, Team VP, General Manager, Marketing Director, and Community Outreach Director.  Each group/team is given the basic structure and parameters in order to operate the team leading up to its season.   These activities help to develop students in academic areas (literacy, writing, mathematics, and social studies).  More importantly they are being taught workforce preparation and life skills, as the youth transition into becoming young adults.

 

Post and read comments here

Introducing S.M.A.R.T!

The Executive Director’s Message……When I first started working with youth in after-school and summer camp programs in 2004, I would have never guessed in a million years that I would be doing something in that capacity. It “must have been written” because over the next seven years there would be numerous events and experiences that would happen in my life shaping Sports Management, Academics, and Recreational Training (S.M.A.R.T.) into what it is today and providing the vision for the organization’s growth!

When I began working with youth, it was in Ward 8, which is considered a low-to-moderate income area of Washington, DC with a higher number of at-risk youth living and attending school. I became the Executive Director of DCBASEBALL.ORG in 2005 and while attempting to implement its programs into schools and little league organizations around the city, I realized that in the low to moderate income sections of the city the supplemental education opportunities for youth were almost non-existent. Also, the active participation of youth in sports programs around the city started to decrease. Programs like S.M.A.R.T. were dwindling and these young people deserved better quality programs during after-school and summer camp programs.

I started to develop a new mission for the organization which would not only focuses on academic development, but also helps raise the active participation in sports among the youth of Washington D.C. Having a deep passion and love for sports and for education, this was and is dear to me.  Our new mission is clear: S.M.A.R.T. develops youth in academic areas, physical education, and life skills using sports-themed activities during Out-of-School Time (OST) as a tool to educate and motivate young people.

I also see the mission statement as a “Movement” statement.  Disadvantaged youth need quality guidance within educational development.  Using sports-themed activities in our programs for youth helps the organization strive to set and reach our primary goals and objectives:

1. Help “at-risk” and “under-served” youth improve academic performance in the areas of literacy, mathematics, writing, science, history, health, and life skills.
2. Provide physical education enrichment activities to help combat health issues among youth.
3. Provide athletic skills instruction, guidance and mentorship to youth athletes.
4. Raise the active participation of youth in school athletics teams, as well as recreational sports teams.
5. Decrease the number of high school student-athletes who do not meet NCAA initial eligibility standards.
6. Build on-going partnerships with local businesses, local government, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and citizens to provide resources for youth education, sports, and recreational activities.

 

As the great Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “the time is always right to do what is right.”

Don’t just follow us on our journey. Walk with us hand in hand as we change the lives of our youth through S.M.A.R.T.er thinking.

Antonio Scott

 

Post and read comments here