What is KEEN?
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer organization that provides free one-to-one recreational and sports programs for children and young adults with more profound and severe mental and physical disabilities. At each KEEN session, a participating athlete is paired with a trained volunteer coach for a variety of age-appropriate programs including tennis, swimming, basketball, basic ball skills, soccer, fitness and weight training and social activities and outings. Programs and activities offered will vary from one affiliate location to the next.
How much does it cost to enroll my child?
Nothing. All of KEEN’s programs are provided entirely free of charge. KEEN families are not asked to make financial contributions.
What are the requirements to be enrolled as an athlete?
There are no requirements. KEEN serves individuals with such diverse disabilities as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and various developmental and intellectual disabilities. Because KEEN’s activities are non-competitive and inclusive, we offer opportunities for athletes who have not been able to access or find happiness in other programs.
What is the benefit of being a KEEN athlete?
KEEN athletes develop friendships with other athletes and volunteers, self-esteem and confidence, social and teamwork skills, athletic skills and talents, and perhaps most important, a sense of belonging.
KEEN is a place where athletes are accepted as they are and have fun in a safe, supervised setting while their families gain valuable respite opportunities.
Can parents participate in the sessions?
One of the biggest benefits of KEEN is that it provides a bit of respite for families. By leaving their child at KEEN, not only can the parent run a few errands, read a book, or even nap in the car, but the athlete will be more likely to form a relationship with their coach. Parents who are new to KEEN and not comfortable with the separation may certainly stay, perhaps enjoying a soda and a chance to visit with other parents outside the gym. If an athlete has particularly challenging behaviors, the Program Coordinator may ask the parent to stay on site to be available if needed. In rare instances, KEEN may have a severe shortage of volunteers and ask the parent to stay and coach their child. But KEEN will always strive to match the athlete, one-to-one, with a volunteer coach. That is our mission.
What is a benefit of being a KEEN Volunteer Coach?
KEEN volunteers develop friendships with athletes and other volunteers, the rewards from giving to and enhancing their community, a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and opportunities for personal and professional growth
KEEN’s coaches come from all walks of life: they are working adults volunteering on their own or as part of corporate and community groups, college or high school students, retirees and “empty nesters,” and families volunteering together. Volunteering at KEEN brings a different perspective on life through encounters with young people who face significant challenges, and friendships with like-minded individuals seeking to give back to the community. For families volunteering at KEEN, the shared experience brings a unique closeness.
What kind of time committment is required to be a KEEN volunteer?
One of the things that makes KEEN unique is that it does not ask its volunteers to make a specific time commitment. Volunteers simply come when they can. We do ask that large groups of volunteers coordinate a specific day for their organization to come to KEEN. Affiliates may also ask school age volunteers to register in advance.
How can I register to volunteer?
Affiliate web sites have an on-line registration feature.
Who can volunteer?
KEEN’s volunteers come from all walks of life: they are working adults volunteering on their own or as part of corporate and community groups, college or high school students, retirees and “empty nesters,” and families volunteering together
How old should I be to volunteer?
Anyone age 15 or older with 3 references can be a KEEN volunteer. Younger volunteers with a special background or experience level should check with their affiliate.
Is there a training session for volunteers?
All first-time volunteers are required to bring 3 references and attend a training program prior to their first session. Training programs are offered prior to every KEEN session, and take about 30 minutes.
Can I earn community service hours?
Young KEEN volunteers can usually earn service hours needed for graduation. Check with your affiliate to see what the specific requirement are.
What is the COACHES COMMITTEE?
The Coaches Committee is the backbone of KEEN. The committee runs, plans and administers KEEN's programs, trains new volunteers, and generally executes the direction set by the Board of Directors. Coaches Committee members are always thinking of new programs and approaches to help KEEN grow and serve more athletes. Volunteers who want to make a significant contribution to KEEN may join this committee.
How can I get involved?
All KEEN’s activities are provided at no cost to the athletes or their families, thanks to tremendous support from KEEN’s donors and volunteers.
KEEN relies on individual, group, and corporate contributions for financial support to purchase and maintain athletic equipment, recruit and train volunteers, rent recreational facilities, cover necessary liability insurance costs, and operate our programs.
KEEN depends on volunteer coaches to work one-on-one with athletes, run our programs, and maintain the focus on KEEN’s unique mission.
To volunteer or make a tax-deductible financial contribution, or donate athletic equipment or in-kind services, contact KEEN at:
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN)
1900 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Or, contact your local affiliate.