Athletes For Kids Programs
Athletes For Kids gives young people the chance to model for peers and community members that differences are something to be embraced, not avoided. By helping kids feel great about who they are, Athletes For Kids helps schools foster a positive learning environment, a place where abilities are not indicative of self‐esteem,where academic achievement is within reach, and where all students can grow into more thoughtful, compassionate, and engaged adults. An antidote to social isolation and estrangement, Athletes For Kids helps kids model and teach the values and interpersonal skills that help them succeed and be happy in life.
Our Unique Mentorship Model
Athletes For Kids serves elementary and middle school children (mentees) who have physical, neurological, or emotional disabilities. We carefully match each child with a qualified high school‐aged athlete (mentor) in mentorships that continue for a year or more. Once matched, the pair meets two to four times a month for the duration of the mentorship. Male and female athlete‐mentor candidates are referred to us by athletic directors, teachers, and active mentors. Every applicant must pass a thorough screening and training program before being matched with a child. Once admitted to the program, mentors are required to attend monthly meetings to receive ongoing training and support.
Athletes For Kids has a proven track record in serving children and youth. Founded on the idea that friendship has the power to restore a child’s faith in life, we were incorporated as a non‐profit in 2002. Since that time, we have grown from a small group at one school, to a program serving families in Issaquah, Sammamish, Bellevue, and Redmond schools. We now serve over 100 children annually, and have served hundreds of children since our founding.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
By mentoring children with disabilities, our high school athletes become better people. Athletes For Kids turns high school athletes into better, more empathetic human beings. We live in a sports-obsessed American society today where competitive athletes are placed on pedestals starting in high school. Yet it sometimes seems that fewer and fewer athletes at the higher levels of American sports behave as the positive, inspiring role models so many of us wish they would be. How many of us have wished that some of those athletes would display a little more maturity and humility to accompany their God-given talents and abilities?
In the Athletes For Kids program, our high school athlete-mentors, many of whom are stars on a local or state level in their respective sports, voluntarily step away from the pedestal in their local communities and reach out to a youngster who is very different from them, perhaps doing so for the first time in their lives. For our teen athletes, mentoring a youngster with a disability or special need can be a humbling experience which takes them out of their usual comfort zone. There are no cheers from the crowd, just the unfolding, life-altering experience during the mentorship of bonding with someone very different from themselves, yet finding commonalities between them that the mentor may never have even known existed before.
Our current and former mentors have reported many positive benefits in their own young adult lives from our mentorships, including:
- Increased patience in dealing with other people
- Greater awareness that not everyone in life is the same as they are, but that our differences need not preclude friendships between us
- Not making snap judgments about people in life anymore based on stereotype
- Feeling more grateful about their own success in life, instead of having an attitude of entitlement