My name is Desiree Matthews and I am 11 years old. In my afterschool program, America SCORES, I am involved in lots of activities including fashion classes, cooking, dancing, karate, and playing soccer. In third grade, I started dance class and then I did karate.
I joined karate to build up my self-defense. The sensei gave us a brochure on the program and taught me how to spar and do jacata. I learned a lot and now I can help my sensei teach the younger kids. I wasn’t scared at all to teach the little kids. I try to get them to listen to me. First I make funny faces like a monster to make them laugh. I play with them for a little while and then when it’s time to do karate, they listen to me. Karate makes me feel strong and confident in myself. It makes me strong because I won’t be scared to tell someone to stop chasing after me.
My favorite afterschool activity is soccer. I made a lot of new friends. Also, any time I am mad, I can kick the ball as hard as I can. I feel less mad afterwards and I feel super happy when I make a goal.
Another activity that I participated in is our fall poetry slam. I get a chance to express myself. The poetry slam is fun but I was nervous because I was afraid to speak in front of so many people. The poetry slam brings people from different states to compete. I met a lot of new people and we became friends.
I put all of my feeling into my poems. My mom taught me how to do that. Also, my teacher, Ms. April, chose me to be the Team Leader for our poetry slam group. The group was having trouble and kept messing up their lines. But I helped them to do better. First, I made them laugh so they wouldn’t be nervous. Then I taught them how to perform the poem through a step dance. I added the dance to make the performance more live. I was happy when they followed what I had taught them.
There are a lot of things that kids can do in an afterschool program. Try out poetry so you can express yourself. Take a dance class so that you can become a better dancer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Desiree’s teacher, Ms. April, reports, “This past spring, Desiree was chosen to represent New York City at the America SCORES National Poetry Slam! She is still eager and full of energy, but she's learning to channel and focus that energy in positive ways. Desiree's teamwork, leadership, and commitment to her team and to America SCORES represent just how far she has come.”