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KEEN Los Angeles - Kids with Disabilities - Recreation and FUN

  • Published: 2009-10-24 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-16) : Author: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: KEEN LA was launched in October of 2005, a mere three months after the people involved in its planning held their first community assessment meeting.

Main Document

The need for a program such as the one KEEN represents today was recognized by a group of community members who cared deeply enough about the quality of life of children with disabilities that they pursued the creation of KEEN.

These people worked with parents, agencies that provided programs serving persons with development disabilities, as well as volunteers in order to assess the needs of others in Los Angeles for a program like KEEN, to include the resources that would be made available. The end results of their work and research was a resounding consensus that a program like KEEN would meet a very real need for both sports and recreational programming that is accessible for children with disabilities while offering assistance in regards to the recruitment of volunteers and participants while making training and facilities available too.

KEEN LA was launched in October of 2005, a mere three months after the people involved in its planning held their first community assessment meeting. The program has expanded to serve children with developmental disabilities on a twice-monthly basis. The KEEN program's very popularity has made it an incredible success in a very short period of time. There have been some highly noteworthy people and organizations involved in the success of KEEN:

Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department - has made available its Elysian Park
Therapeutic Recreation Center as the program site. The department also provides shuttle bus service from the closest public transportation to the Center on program days.

Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center - The Center has publicized
Keen, conducted training programs for volunteers, and assisted in recruitment.

SONNENSCHEIN NATH & ROSENTHAL LLP - The law firm has provided volunteers, office space and administrative help, as well as financial support.

Rotary Club of Los Angles - The Club has sponsored KEEN events and helped in recruiting volunteers.

Volunteers for KEEN are the base of the programs success.

The year 2006 was KEEN LA's first complete year; they found themselves with one-hundred and forty volunteers who contributed two-thousand seven-hundred and seventy hours of their personal time to the program. The time these volunteers selflessly gave to the children participating in KEEN LA enabled these children to receive greater than six-hundred and twenty-four athlete hours of enjoyment. Most of the volunteers serve as Coaches who work directly with participants. It is one of the most rewarding, challenging and fun jobs at KEEN. At every KEEN program session an athlete is paired with their own volunteer Coach. One-on-one coaching encourages and teaches these children to become the athletes they aspire to be. Volunteers also take leadership positions, become officers and chairs, serve as directors, and help in development and program-related committees. KEEN volunteers may also make direct financial contributions, pursue donor solicitation, and attend special events.

Programs at KEEN LA are run internally in order to meet the needs of both the athletes and the volunteers who participate. Board members include not only parents of the children with disabilities who participate, but community members and volunteers who desire to help children with disabilities. Board member responsibilities include long-range planning, policy-making, and fiscal planning to ensure that KEEN activities remain consistent as well as within the organization's mission and standards. At this is time there is only one paid employee at KEEN LA; the Executive Director.

Programs at KEEN LA

The programs at KEEN LA are absolutely free and run by volunteers. The programs are age-appropriate and non-competitive, as well as flexible, open, and unstructured. They are tailored for each athlete's particular needs and are inclusive, despite the nature of a child's disabilities.

Program session are commonly scheduled for the first and third Sundays of each month, the exceptions being holiday weekends and the month of August. Athletes and volunteers participate in these activities between 11:00AM and 12:30PM. The Elysian Park Therapeutic Recreation Center features outdoor full-court basketball, indoor half-court basketball, an outdoor wheelchair accessible playground, outdoor fields, and an indoor weight training area. Parking is available for both parents and volunteers. Nearby there are park areas and a playground.

KEEN LA program session usually find athletes and coaches spending fifty minutes playing soccer, basketball, lawn bowling or dodge ball. Some may pursue gymnastics, scooters, jump ropes, hula hoops, monkey bars, or swings. Sessions many times wind up with families joining the athletes and coaches in tug-of-war or parachute play. The sessions always end in the, 'Proud Circle,' where every athlete enters the circle in turn and tells others, "What did you do today that made you Proud"

All of the volunteers for KEEN LA have received initial training and have undergone screening. Volunteers also continue to be monitored. Volunteers are offered additional training as well, such as First aid and CPR. The safety of children always comes first at KEEN LA. For more information call 213-892-2935

Are you reading through this and thinking, 'Wow! I sure wish that KEEN had a program like this in my area? Maybe they do! KEEN has affiliates in several cities, to include some in England. You can find KEEN affiliates in the following cities:

KEEN Phoenix
KEEN Chicago
KEEN New York
KEEN St. Louis
KEEN Greater DC
KEEN Kansas City
KEEN Los Angeles
KEEN San Francisco

KEEN York, England
KEEN London, England
KEEN Oxford, England

KEEN Los Angeles
601 S. Figueroa Street, Suite 2500
Los Angeles, CA 90017

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