KEEN Greater DC-Baltimore is proud to announce the opening of its newest sports program for kids, ages 5-to 12 years old, with autism and other developmental delays and physical and intellectual disabilities. KEEN Sports for Kids Arlington, Va., began in May 2017 with 12 new KEEN athletes and room to grow and add more kids.
Like all KEEN programs, KEEN Sports Arlington is free of charge. At the new Arlington location, children with disabilities are paired one-to-one with trained volunteer coaches for 75 minutes of individualized play using a variety of sports equipment KEEN provides, including a variety of balls, scooters, indoor bowling pins and tunnels. The children are empowered to pick what they want to play with and how long they want to play with each item. Their volunteer coaches adapt activities so every child is able to play at his or he own speed and in his or her own way while providing support and encouragement for all effort. At the end of each session, KEEN athletes and coaches form a circle, and each athlete gets to say what he or she did that day that they’re most proud of. And for children who are nonverbal, their coaches speak for them. While the children are in KEEN Sports, their parents get a short respite.
This new program was made possible thanks to long-time KEEN supporters, the MAXIMUS Foundation and Autism Speaks, and thanks to Bishop O’Connell High School. The school not only gave KEEN access to their gym and space to store equipment, but they’ve also been helping to recruit their students to be volunteer coaches at the new program