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KEEN is modeled on an innovative program established in Oxford, England by Elliott Portnoy, who brought KEEN to the Washington, DC area in 1992. With help from a handful of parents and volunteers, KEEN started as a single program in the Greater DC area.

In 2005 KEEN began its expansion into select cities across the United States, opening its doors to new athletes and volunteers in Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York and Phoenix. As KEEN grows, it is committed to maintaining its basic ideals: providing free recreational opportunities to children and young adults with disabilities by pairing them with trained volunteers for fun, noncompetitive activities. KEEN seeks to develop each athlete's self-esteem and confidence, as well as recreational skills and talents, and to increase each athlete's ability to participate in a broader range of recreational activities and environments.


TimelineKEEN Milestones Throughout the Years


  • Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) is founded in England.


  • KEEN England’s founder and interested parents and community members in Montgomery County, Md., meet to discuss starting a U.S. version of the program.


  • KEEN holds its first session in the United States.


  • KEEN launches its first major fundraising effort: the annual KEEN Golf Classic.


  • KEEN Club is created to give teenagers with disabilities an opportunity to play team sports and go on outings with peer companions.


  • KEEN hires a part-time staff person.
  • KEEN Swim launches, serving all KEEN athletes.


  • KEEN establishes first U.S. spin-off at the University of Virginia.

KEENFest logo2001

  • KEEN launches Fit and Sports programs for young adults.
  • KEEN’s part-time staff job grows into a full-time executive director position.
  • KEEN holds KEENFest, a dinner and silent auction, which becomes a second major annual fundraiser.


  • KEEN celebrates its 10th anniversary and holds its first annual KEEN Sports Festival, inviting athletes from every program to come together as one group at an outdoor recreational event and picnic.


  • KEEN adds two new programs: Bowling for young adults and Tennis for kids and teens in Northern Virginia.


  • KEEN Music begins, providing dance and music programs to kids and teens.
  • KEEN USA becomes a national organization and renames the flagship affiliate KEEN Greater DC.


  • KEEN Greater DC is selected for inclusion in the 2005 Catalog for Philanthropy: Greater Washington as one of the small charities “making a difference in the DC area.”
  • In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Washingtonian magazine named KEEN Greater DC as one of the “40 organizations [that] strengthen the bodies and spirits of young Washingtonians.”
  • KEEN USA begins its expansion by launching KEEN programs in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis and Los Angeles.


  • KEEN launches in Southeast DC with two new programs, Sports and Swim.
  • KEEN Greater DC begins collaboration with other local organizations to create much needed programs for adults over 25 years old with disabilities.
  • KEEN San Francisco is launched.


  • KEEN Affiliates in New York and Phoenix begin Sports sessions.


  • KEEN wins Toyota Halftime Hand-off Competition, winning $10,000 and a 15-second spot on NBC's NFL Sunday Night Football Halftime Report.


  • KEEN celebrates its 20th Anniversary.