FAQs

What is KEEN?

Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer organization that provides free one-to-one recreational and sports programs for children and young adults with any disability.  At each KEEN session, a participating athlete is paired with a trained volunteer coach for a variety of age-appropriate programs including tennis, swimming, basketball, basic ball skills, soccer, and fitness and social activities and outings. Programs and activities offered will vary.

How much does it cost to enroll my child?

Nothing. All of KEEN’s programs are provided to families, entirely free of charge. 

What are the requirements to be enrolled as an athlete?

KEEN serves individuals ages 5-21 with such diverse disabilities as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and various developmental and intellectual disabilities. Because KEEN’s activities are free, non-competitive and inclusive, we offer opportunities for athletes who have not been able to access or find other programs.

What is the benefit of being a KEEN athlete?

KEEN athletes develop friendships with other athletes and volunteers, self-esteem and confidence, social and teamwork skills, athletic skills and talents, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of belonging.

KEEN is a place where athletes are accepted as they are and have fun in a safe, supervised setting while their families gain valuable respite opportunities.

Can parents participate in the sessions?

One of the biggest benefits of KEEN is that it provides a bit of respite for families. By leaving their child at KEEN, not only can the parent run a few errands, read a book, or even nap in the car, but the athlete will be more likely to form a relationship with their coach. Parents who are new to KEEN and not comfortable with the separation may certainly stay, perhaps enjoying a break and a chance to visit with other parents inside or outside of the gym or pool deck. If an athlete has particularly challenging behaviors, the Program Coordinator may ask the parent to stay on site to be available if needed. In rare instances, KEEN may have a severe shortage of volunteers and ask the parent to stay and coach their child.  KEEN will always strive to match the athlete, one-to-one, with a volunteer coach. 

What are the benefits of being a KEEN Volunteer Coach?

KEEN volunteers develop friendships with athletes and other volunteers.  The rewards come from giving to and enhancing their community.  They gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and experience opportunities for personal and professional growth

Volunteering at KEEN brings a different perspective on life through encounters with young people who face significant challenges, and friendships with like-minded individuals seeking to give back to the community. For families volunteering at KEEN, the shared experience brings a unique closeness.

What kind of time commitment is required to be a KEEN volunteer?

One of the qualities that makes KEEN unique is that it does not ask volunteers to make a specific time commitment. Volunteers/groups register to come when they can. Volunteers must cancel in advance of a session to ensure there are enough volunteers for each athlete.  

How can I apply to volunteer?

Please complete our volunteer application found here.

Who can volunteer?

KEEN’s volunteers come from all walks of life: they are working adults volunteering on their own or as part of corporate and community groups, college or high school students, retirees and “empty nesters,” and families volunteering together.  Upon applying, applicants must submit two references on their applications.  KEEN will also check Missouri and National registries.  

How old do I have to be to volunteer?

Anyone age 15 or older with 2 references can be a KEEN volunteer. Younger volunteers with a special background or experience level, please reach out to info@keenstlouis.org for more information.  

Is there a training session for volunteers?

All first-time volunteers are required to submit 2 references and attend a training program prior to their first session. Training programs are offered prior to every KEEN session.

Can I earn community service hours?

KEEN volunteers can earn service hours needed for graduation. The volunteer is responsible for keeping track of the hours and for requesting the volunteer manager's approval.  

What is the COACHES COMMITTEE?

The Coaches Committee is an integral part of the KEEN organization.  It is comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers who want to make a significant impact on KEEN St Louis, its athletes, their parents and the volunteers.  Members will assist the Program Manager and Program Coordinator in ensuring Sunday programs run smoothly and safely.  

How can I get involved?

All KEEN’s activities are provided at no cost to the athletes or their families, thanks to tremendous support from KEEN’s donors and volunteers.

Donate: KEEN relies on individual, group, and corporate contributions for financial support to purchase and maintain athletic equipment, recruit and train volunteers, rent recreational facilities, cover necessary liability insurance costs, and operate our programs.

Volunteer: KEEN depends on volunteer coaches to work one-on-one with athletes, run our programs, and maintain the focus on KEEN’s unique mission.

To volunteer or make a tax-deductible financial contribution, or donate athletic equipment or in-kind services, contact KEEN at:
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN)
567 Hanley Industrial Court
St. Louis, MO 63144
314.259.5980
info@keenstlouis.org