KEEN: A World Where No One Gets Left Behind

Keen, USA

Dinan Elsyad on January 9, 2019 in Sports

Any doctor will tell you the importance of exercise: to go outside and run for a few minutes, or a couple of push ups. Exercise is critical to the health of everyone, but especially children, since exercise plays a key role in their development into adulthood. It is easy to forget, however, that not everyone has the luxury of getting up and playing outside when they feel like it. Thoughts with mental and physical disabilities face many challenges, when trying to get the proper exercise they need: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now, or KEEN, is a nonprofit organization that aims to fix just that.

According to their website, KEEN has both a mission and a vision. Their mission is to “empower youth with disabilities by providing free, non-competitive one-to-one programs of exercise, fitness and fun, led by volunteer coaches.” With all of this in place, their vision for the future is to “foster confidence, self-esteem and community inclusion for youth with disabilities; strengthen communities through education of volunteers; and provide families with respite and a supportive network.”

The idea for the organization was inspired by one similar that exists in England. KEEN was brought over by Elliott Portnoy. It started off small, but Portnoy, hife wife, and volunteers, helped build KEEN up to what it is today.

Though it his headquartered in Washington, DC, it operates its programs in 6 other cities: New York, New york; Chicago, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; and San Francisco, California.

The programs the nonprofit hosts all fit under the umbrella of KEEN Sports. All KEEN Sports sessions start the same way; the group of children warm up together with the coaches. After this, the group breaks up, where each child is worked with, one-on-one, with exercises tailored specifically to that child and its disability. KEEN also has KEEN Swim, KEEN Tennis, KEEN Bowling, KEEN Fit, and KEEN Music. All KEEN sessions end with “Prouds.” The group regatheres, and every child states something they accomplished that day that they were proud of.

Though KEEN Sports makes up the backbone of this nonprofit, it hosts special events as well. Earlier this year, in September, KEEN hosted a KEEN for Coffee event, to celebrate its 25-year anniversary as a nonprofit organization. The event aimed to raise money through donations.

On March 24, 2019, KEEN will be hosting their Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon Event. It is a 26 mile race that will raise money. To learn more about this event, visit https://www.lamarathon.com/.

To learn more about their cause, visit their website: https://www.keenusa.org/. To join their cause and volunteer, visit https://www.keenusa.org/volunteers. Volunteers, as explained on their website, do not need prior knowledge or experience with working with disabled children; KEEN holds training sessions prior to working with the disabled kids. High school volunteers must be at least 15 years old.

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