FAQ's

What is KEEN?

KEEN Greater DC-Baltimore (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer organization that provides free one-to-one recreational and sports programs for children and young adults with more profound and severe mental and physical disabilities. 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, fitness and weight training, as well as social activities and outings. 

How much does it cost to enroll my child?

Nothing. All of KEEN’s programs are provided entirely free of charge. KEEN families are not asked to make financial contributions.

What are the requirements to be enrolled as an athlete?

There are no requirements. KEEN serves individuals with such diverse disabilities as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and various developmental and intellectual disabilities. Because KEEN’s activities are non-competitive and inclusive, we offer opportunities for athletes who have not been able to access or find happiness in 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 important, 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 chance to visit with other parents outside the gym. 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. But KEEN will always strive to match the athlete, one-to-one, with a volunteer coach. That is our mission.

What is a benefit of being a KEEN Volunteer Coach?

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

KEEN’s coaches come from all walks of life: they are working adults volunteering, individually, on their own or as part of corporate and community groups; college or high school students; retirees and “empty nesters” and families with teenaged children volunteering together. Volunteering at KEEN adds a different perspective to 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 and groups 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 things that makes KEEN unique is that it does not ask its volunteers to make a specific long-term. time commitment. Volunteers simply sign up and come when they can. We do ask that large groups of volunteers coordinate a specific day for their organization to come to KEEN.

KEEN sessions vary in length, so time commitments at individual sessions range from 90 minutes to 3.5 hours.

How can I register to volunteer?

Sign up here. 

Who can volunteer?

Anyone who is 15 years old or older who is mature, responsible and interested in helping young people with disabilities and who has registered with KEEN and attends our orientation can volunteer. Orientation is held immediately before each KEEN session. 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 with teenagers volunteering together. 

How old should I be to volunteer?

Anyone age 15 or older with 3 references can be a KEEN volunteer. Younger teens—those who are 13 or 14 with a special background or experience level should email programsdc@keengreaterc.org to inquire about special opportunities and requirements to volunteers.

Is there a training session for volunteers?

All first-time volunteers are required to bring 3 references and attend orientation and training prior to their first session. Training and orientation sessions are offered prior to every KEEN session, and take about 30 minutes.

Can I earn community service hours?
Yes, but you MUST bring a community service form with you when you come to volunteer, and turn it in at the front desk at the beginning of the session.

What is the COACHES COMMITTEE?

The Coaches Committee is the backbone of KEEN. The Committee runs, plans and administers KEEN's programs, trains new volunteers and generally executes the direction set by the Board of Directors. Coaches Committee members are always thinking of new programs and approaches to help KEEN grow and serve more athletes. Volunteers who want to make a significant contribution to KEEN may join this committee.

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.

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.

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:

KEEN Greater DC
PO Box 341590
Bethesda, MD 20827-1590

301.770.3200
info@keengreaterdc.org