[FIELDS] After more than a decade of providing after-school programs that combine soccer and poetry at Bay Area schools, America Scores has launched a campaign to build micro-soccer artificial turf fields at 18 San Francisco schools.
Colin Schmidt, the Executive Director of America Scores Bay Area, decided to expand the program’s effort to field development after Mark Sanchez, the principal of Cleveland Elementary, suggested that some green on the blacktop would make a good thing even better.
“Kids can play on asphalt, they always have, but it’s more dangerous and girls especially are less likely to partake,” said Sanchez.
Schmidt held an America Scores fundraiser and when students arrived in August they were delighted with the patch of turf in the middle of the blacktop.
“I have to invest a lot less in band-aids,” says Cleveland Elementary’s after-school director Kevin Lacy.
San Francisco’s open-school policy means the field can be used for pick-up games on weekends and in the evenings.
“We got calls from dozens of school asking how do we get one of these,” said Schmidt.
That prompted Schmidt to aim for 17 more fields, which would benefit 6,000 low-income youth and “turn 75,000 square-feet of dangerous and unsightly asphalt into green, beautiful, and safe-play spaces.”
America Scores dates back to 1994 when Washington, D.C., public school teacher Julie Kennedy started having her class play soccer after school in hopes of steering them away from gang activity. When the weather was bad, she led poetry sessions. She soon noticed that the children who took part in the after-school activities performed better in the classroom.
In 1999, America Scores went national with the soccer-poetry combo and now works with more than 150 public schools in 13 cities.
Schmidt concedes the field development project is an ambitious expansion for the program, but is confident of its success. The Cleveland field was built within the projected budget and Schmidt, who notes that “a $15 donation pays for one-square foot of turf,” expects that three or four fields will be completed within the next year and 18 by 2016.
America Scores San Francisco Field Project Donor Site