Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) Chicago mobilizes a vision of an inclusive future; one with intentional community spaces that uplift youth with disabilities ages 5-21. Our 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.
We are working to both empower our Athletes and keep them engaged, excited, and uplifted during this hard time. In order to do that, in 2021, we worked to send two Active-at-Home kits each to 50 of our participating Athletes, in March and then June. The kits were specifically tailored to meet the needs of our Athletes, improve overall mental health, and keep them
active during this time at home. The kits were extremely well received: 91% of recipients reported improved mental health, 73% reported increased physical activity, and 100% expressed excitement over receiving the kit. One parent said "This was the coolest package she’s ever received!" Another parent adds her child "felt better knowing someone cared about him and was thinking of him".
In July 2021, we have begun to gradually re-open our in-person program at limited capacities, while simultaneously maintaining our virtual programming. It is a huge challenge and has come with significant increased expenses for our small organization.
We have noticed as we reopen, that there is a certain percentage of our Athletes for which the virtual program does not meet their needs, and, who are not yet comfortable attending in-person programs due to their added health risk during the current pandemic. Therefore, our project is to send a KEEN Winter Care Package directly to this subset of approximately 30 Athletes who, at this time, are unable to participate any other way. The care package will contain items that both address physical and mental health needs, and will be particularly important for these members of our community who are completely isolated for their own safety at this time.
Funded by Chicago, IL (October 2021)