A Burnaby Grade 6 student is set to become the first Canadian to compete at the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM in New York City this weekend.
Zackery Letang, 11, flew to the Big Apple Friday with his mom after winning a competition for kids in the Canada SCORES program in Burnaby.
Canada SCORES is a fledgling non-profit that runs inclusive and innovative programs for at-risk and vulnerable youth at Edmonds, Taylor Park Elementary, Stride Avenue Community School and Twelfth Avenue Elementary.
The after-school program, imported from the U.S. by Electronic Arts VP of planning and strategy Jon Lutz, combines soccer and poetry.
Lutz launched the Canadian edition in Burnaby last year, with plans to expand into Surrey in the near future.
Letang, an Edmonds student who lives with his mom and brother, was drawn to the program by a love of soccer.
“I’ve been asking for years if I could be in a soccer program after school or something,” he told the NOW. “I really like soccer, and poetry is also something that kind of intrigued me. I kind of just like it and find it entertaining.”
Letang earned his trip to New York with a poem on a fitting West Coast topic – rain.
For an encore at the national competition he’ll be slamming about his family.
He said he is excited about the event, but not nervous.
“One thing that really boosts my confidence is that, out of all the Canada SCORES kids, I was the one who got chosen,” he said, “so that’s obviously for a reason.”
Canada SCORES coaches and volunteers help kids hone their soccer skills on the pitch after school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and their poetry skills in the classroom Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The combination of soccer and poetry was born out of two interests of America SCORES founder Julie Kennedy, a teacher in Washington D.C., who was concerned about her students not having constructive after-school options, were at risk of gang activity and other dangers after class. In bad weather, she turned to teaching kids how to write and perform poetry.
For Burnaby participants keen on poetry, a highlight of the program will be the second annual Canada SCORES Poetry Slam at Edmonds (7651 18th Ave.) on April 21 from 6:15 to 8 p.m.
The event, open to parents and supporters, will showcase the work of more than 50 poet-athletes.
For more information about Canada SCORES, visit www.canadascore.org.