KFK offers a variety of programs designed to “level the playing field” that take place throughout the year. In February, we meet with our agency partners to present our program calendar and discuss the outcome of the past year. At KFK, we are committed to being good stewards of the money we raise, making sure that our programs are first-rate and reaching the kids that need them most. There are no disease or illness restrictions; no race, sex or religious specifications; or any other such limitations. While no formal age or socio-economic barriers exist, the charity generally assists children who are under 21 and come from lower- to middle-income families. Many of the kids that come through our programs are used to getting hand-me-downs, second- or third-rate items. KFK provides them with first-rate camps, outings, and lessons that are designed to build confidence and self-esteem, provide positive role models, foster healthy relationships, and expand cultural horizons for the kids we serve.
Our current programs include:
• The Christmas Celebration/Community Service
• The Great Outdoor Adventure
• Cincinnati Reds Game Outing
• Circus Camp
• Basketball Camps
• Plays and Shows
• Art Instruction
• Fitness Program
The Christmas Celebration
Provides an unforgettable evening for a group of children that would otherwise have a very limited Christmas. Every December, Kicks for Kids welcomes 50-65 local children at-risk to its’ annual Christmas Celebration. Gathering at Paul Brown Stadium, the children, their chaperones and guests enjoy a night of chili, pizza, cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas—including Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Kids have dinner and dessert, listen to the Christmas story, meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus (and other Christmas characters), and tour the stadium, including the Bengals locker room! They also visit Santa’s workshop to have their faces painted, pick out presents for their families, and have a balloon animal made for them. The real treat comes when they make their way to the visitors’ locker room. There, each child has a locker with his or her name on it. Inside the locker is a jersey with each child’s name and favorite number, a new winter coat, a hat and gloves, school supplies and a Bengals football for autographs. The coats are usually necessary, because next they run out of the locker room on to the field as they are cheered on by the Ben-Gals. In order to attend the Christmas Celebration, the children are required to do two things. First, they have to write a letter to Santa (for obvious reasons). Second, they must do a community service project. Service projects range from cleaning up local schools and making cards for soldiers to cooking and delivering meals to the elderly. These simple, compassionate acts show kids that they each have something to give back—that they have value and self-worth. Additionally, kids meet their Christmas Celebration chaperones at the community service project. Working together gives the children and chaperones a chance to bond, so when they meet again at the Christmas party, they are excited to see each other. We’ve even had several instances where children and chaperones chose to stay in touch after the party. This night is truly magical for everyone involved!
Great Outdoor Adventure (GOA)
Introduces local children to the great outdoors, challenges them to go outside their comfort zones, and gives them a larger view of the world. The GOA is a fun-filled day of fishing, horseback riding, hayrides, archery, flying on a zip line, team building, geocaching, rock wall climbing, learning about animals and experiencing nature. Taking place at Potter’s Ranch in Union, Kentucky, a safe, outdoor site where mutual respect is expected, the 680-acre wilderness setting exudes peace, tranquility and natural beauty along Gunpowder Creek, which borders the ranch. Coming mostly from urban areas, kids often find this environment completely foreign, new and exciting. At the GOA, kids are introduced to a different view of the world in more ways than one. At around 9:30 on a crisp October day, one hundred kids begin arriving in buses and limos provided by Kicks For Kids. Throughout the daily activities, lunch, snack, dinner, and plenty of water are provided. Before the fun starts, the kids are divided into groups. Each group has four chaperones who escort the kids to each event, assisting them with whatever they need, which is usually encouragement. Many of these kids have never seen horses, zip lines, or rock walls. To say these things scare them is putting it mildly. It’s not uncommon for kids to have tears in their eyes while on the zip line platform, on the back of a horse, or rock climbing. Yet every single one of those kids ends up with a huge smile and a sense of pride once they overcome their fear. What a great gift to be able to conquer a fear in such a powerful way! These are experiences that kids can draw from in the future, as young adults facing a big exam or a job interview. They’ll remember that time when they were afraid to jump but did so anyway. They’ll remember they can do anything they put their minds to.
Cincinnati Reds game Outing
Every spring, KFK takes 65 or more kids to see a Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ball Park. Many of these kids have never been to a professional sporting event. In 2014 and 2015, thanks to our friends at CBTS, they were treated to seats in the Technology Pavilion. The kids are able to enjoy indoor or outdoor seating (with an amazing view), a safe, private environment where they can move around freely, and unlimited food and drink. In other words, the kids are going to the game in style!
In partnership with Circus Mojo, KFK offers a week-long summer camp for children ages 7 to 17. At camp, physical skills such as juggling, balancing, and stilt walking coalesce with creative expression such as improvisational character development and group performance. This multidimensional program combines artistry with athletics; students conquer doubt and learn a varied skill set in a collaborative, non-competitive environment. At the end of the week, the kids get to show off their new skills in a show that is open to the community. To top off the fun, the young performers end with an old-fashioned pie fight.
Kicks For Kids (KFK) offers 2 basketball camps: a one-day father/child camp in June, and a three-day camp in August hosted by Tayshaun Prince. Both camps help support KFK programs, while offering a select number of spaces for kids from our agency partners. The camps provide quality instruction on the game’s fundamentals, promote fitness, and encourage team-work. Each camp has a different focus. The Pete Minor Camp emphasizes strengthening the father child bond, as the father figures participate with the kids. The Tayshaun Prince Camp stresses sportsmanship, and peer-to-peer relationships. For more information about each camp click on the links above or visit our current events page.
Plays and Shows
These programs give children and teenagers from across the Tri-state the opportunity to attend nationally and locally produced musicals, plays, ballets, symphonies, etc. KFK arranges for groups of children to attend these shows at local high schools, colleges, and/or theaters (such as the Taft, the Aronoff Center and Music Hall, located in downtown Cincinnati). Each year we offer several performances from which our partner organizations can choose.
This program brings art instruction to your location via Meggie Bierkan, an art teacher at Lebanon Junior High. Meggie holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program. Students will complete projects that teach them about art, artists, and self-expression while also reinforcing literacy skills. This program is ongoing throughout the school year.
Kicks for Kids offers fun fitness programs that kids of all ages can enjoy. In partnership with 859 Academy we offer jujitsu instruction. Here participants will have a place to channel their aggression while being surrounded by positive role models. The martial arts program is designed to instill respect, discipline, confidence and pride in the kids which in turn helps combat bullying and provides a physical activity to counter obesity. Kids train twice a week for 8 weeks. Likewise, our partners at the North College Hill Community Center offer an exciting Double Dutch program. Double Dutch is a sport in which youth of every background can develop and display their skills of speed, strength, agility and creativity. Girls and boys from kindergarten through high school are welcome and encouraged to participate.