On Sunday, June 5, the fields of Avenel’s Community Park will come alive with the squeals, grunts, cheers and high-fives of more than 500 athletes vying in tug-of-wars, kick-ball, volleyball and obstacle course challenges. The KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) Sportsfestival 2016 is an annual afternoon of activities and games for children and young adults with disabilities, their volunteer coaches, family members and supporters.
This 15th annual sports day celebrates 24 years that KEEN has provided free exercise and recreation programs for young people with developmental and/or physical disabilities. The Sportsfestival will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“This day is a big, wonderful picnic,” said Executive Director Beata Okulska. “We match one volunteer with one athlete and then the fun begins. It’s heartwarming to see the joy in the athletes’ faces as they play their favorite games with their volunteer. The day gives families a chance to mingle with one another while they support their children.”
KEEN began in a local gym in 1992 with five children and now serves more than 400 young people through 26 programs and more than 49 monthly sessions including swimming, gym-based sports, fitness, bowling, tennis and music. Each month, KEEN matches a volunteer coach with an athlete. Together they form a team — and every child, no matter what disabilities he or she may have, is enabled to play, exercise and socialize.
This year, United for DC/United Soccer Club coaches will attend the event to lead the soccer games. Other volunteers from the Rotoract/Rotary Club of Federal City; Jewish Federation of Washington, D.C.; U.S. Air Force; Accenture; and Neiman Marcus of Tysons Corner will also be on hand to help. However, more volunteers are needed. Sign up at www. http://www.keengreaterdc.org/sports-festival. As one KEEN coach stated, “A KEEN parent once told me that the time I spend with his child is a gift to his child, but the truth is I am the one getting a gift.”