Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Last year KEEN ran 121 social, creative and sporting sessions for children and adults with special needs living in Oxfordshire. 108 different “Athletes” and “Members” (child and adult participants) attended our events throughout the year. When the attendance of each session is multiplied by the duration, that’s over 2,500 hours of fun!

We are an Oxford-based charity running various different sports and social activities. Our sessions link local people with disabilities with volunteers to create inclusive activities that are fun for all involved. Most of our volunteers are students at the two local universities, and all are enthusiastic and brilliant at motivating our participants.

Zig-Zag is KEEN's creative and performing arts session aimed at children of primary school age. Each session features an exciting mash-up of music, dance, craft and games. Every block of sessions follows a different theme, covering anything from nursery rhymes to Horrible Histories, and Disney films to countries of the world. However, two things remain constant; the opening game of Duck, Duck, Goose and a celebratory Hokey Cokey which finishes each session.

KEEN’s fantastic volunteers encourage and support their “Athletes” to engage in the activities and have as much fun as possible. This dynamic is consistently praised by parents, with one saying that it is “wonderful” for having given her son “a sense of belonging”.

The people who volunteer at Zig-Zag put considerable thought and effort into planning each session and into making it fun and sociable for everyone involved. They volunteer their time so that children with special needs can have fun with their peers in a non-judgemental and safe environment. Of course, they are rewarded by having fantastic fun themselves and by witnessing our Athletes “becoming more confident and involved as they become more comfortable in the group”.

KEEN’s definition of special needs is very broad. Children with a wide range of learning and physical disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, Down's syndrome, global development delay and cerebral palsy are welcomed and catered for at Zig-Zag, as at the other KEEN sessions. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we rarely turn anyone away who could benefit from the KEEN experience. There is no charge to attend Zig-Zag, meaning that no-one is excluded on the basis of cost.

KEEN has no guaranteed regular funding. We rely on donations from trusts and grants from other organisations as well as the individual fundraising efforts of some of the parents and volunteers to cover the costs of our three staff members and the price of running the sessions. Throughout the year, Zig-Zag costs around £1,000 to deliver, excluding wages. This is made up mostly of venue hire and equipment costs.

An award of £1,000 would allow KEEN to provide Zig-Zag sessions for children with special needs during the year 2017/18, starting in October 2017. Up to fifteen children with special needs would have the opportunity to develop their creative and social skills in a supportive environment that gives them the opportunity to gain in confidence and to have fun - in short “to blossom and grow”.

KEEN Oxford

Location: Oxford

There are many great things about Zig-Zag. The highlight is seeing the smiles we create each week, and the strengthening of relationships and social skills amongst our Athletes. This really makes the hard work more than worthwhile.
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