What happens at KEEN?
Every KEEN London session is packed with sports, fun and games, giving children with additional needs the chance to take part, make friends, learn new skills and have as much fun as possible.
Every attending athlete is paired with a trained volunteer coach for individual support. This means each athlete can enjoy all the activities to the best of his or her abilities and parents can enjoy valuable respite time knowing that their child is being cared for in a safe and supported environment.
A typical session — lasting 1.5 hours — will include playground games, basketball, football, dancing, and a traditional rendition of the hokey-cokey. Week by week, we can see improvements in our athletes’ self-esteem, confidence, physical ability, teamwork and communication skills. We also arrange regular trips including ice-skating, city farm visits, boating and trips to London landmarks.
All of our sessions are free of charge. They take place during term-time on Saturdays in Hackney, East London and Lambeth, South London, and on Sundays in Tufnell Park, North London.
Twice a year, KEEN London athletes venture out from London for a two-night/three-day residential trip to the countryside. For many of our athletes, this is their first experience of staying away from home. While they are away, they enjoy many new adventures including boating, orienteering, climbing, archery, building campfires and making the most of their time in the countryside or at the coast.
Staying away from home, with the one-to-one support of our coaches, gives KEEN athletes a whole range of new skills and experiences. It builds confidence, allows them to make new friends and improves their social and physical capabilities.
We’re delighted to offer these amazing opportunities for our athletes to create memories which last a lifetime. Like all of our services, our residential trips are free of charge.
Parents have said…
What KEEN means to us is a safe and fun session where both our children can share an experience. Our little girl can meet other children who have a sibling with a disability and this is not something strange or unusual. This is the only session where they can both participate in their own way, despite their different abilities and the fact that they are 7.5 years apart in age! A truly unique service!
My children have social and behavioural problems which make them socially isolated. KEEN provides them a great social venue in which they are understood, tolerated, corrected and well cared for.
It provides a demonstration to the special needs children that a community is possible.
Nothing has helped his self confidence as much as KEEN London and their emphasis on sport and games involving physical exertion. The increase in confidence has led to Peter taking the massive leap in mainstream schooling.
This is the first time I have seen my child letting go of me, ready to spend time with other adults she has never seen in her life! The volunteers are committed to work as a team and my child knew there was unity in the group! What a fantastic opportunity for my daughter to increase her social skills and have fun at the same time.
It’s great for John to have the chance to get involved with different activities and different people, and it gives me the chance to chat to some of the other parents who I don’t see often otherwise.
Thanks to all of you at Keen for giving me as a parent, an opportunity to say how grateful we are for the respite we get every Saturday.It has transform our Saturday’s. We started coming to the session at the start of 2014 and we have rarely missed any sessions. My daughter who has autism and muscle dystrophy enjoys going and looks forward to the jam packed activities which are always fun and talks about them endlessly. The coaches are all very experience and help the kids and encourages them to get involve or just talk to them and listen. In the summer my daughter went to her first residential trip for 2 days.She had so much fun and still talks about it to this day.They also went to the Aquarium and soft play. Thank you all for your support.
It is a fantastic opportunity for Joe to play with friends in such a supportive environment. He always has such fun and is always asking when is the next one. At weekends he is usually stuck having to be with us which gets boring for him. All we can say is thank you thank you thank you.
At KEEN, Rebecca has learnt that there are other children like herself, different but special in their own ways. She has made friends with children and volunteers alike and looks forward to each Sunday with new-found enthusiasm.
It is wonderful that Felix has the opportunity to mix with children his own age and young adults who can set him such a good example of how to work and play together. The sessions are a therapeutic break for all parties!
Jack is non-verbal but he’s always extremely excited when we pull into the car park – he can’t wait to get inside! He tells me that he really enjoys himself when he’s there and it’s great to see him so happy.
KEEN has been wonderful for Jonathan. The sessions have helped him to develop his social understanding and become more open to trying different activities. Over the summer holidays, he initiated interaction with other children and enjoyed playing with them which is something that he would never have done before. He looks forward to the sessions all week and often asks when he is going to ‘Keen Club’ to see the coaches, who are fun grown-ups.
KEEN is a very healthy and structured environment where Parsa can express himself without fear of being judged or misunderstood. I love KEEN because of its organised and educational activities in a very friendly and relaxed environment.
We absolutely love the good positive vibes at KEEN. The generosity of all the volunteer coaches and how approachable and user friendly the service is. I don’t think we could ask for anything more from a brilliant service provided free with so much enthusiasm!
Hats off to Scott, Nicole & their team who have once again cut to the core of all the noise around disability and seen what the child is, wants and needs to be engaged with the world around them and learn about real fun.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank KEEN for a wonderful break we had after taking Emma to the Isle Of Wight.We as parents really appreciate the respite we got this past weekend.Emma seemed to have had a very good time and she really like the idea if being with the others,some sense of belonging,I guess. I hope she was good to the coaches. That’s all and thank you again for all what you do. We really can’t thank you enough. THANK YOU KEEN.
Thank you so much and all your team for taking Alfred to the Isle of Wight. It was a big deal for him to have an independent trip like this and I could see that he had massively enjoyed himself and felt totally safe and at ease with you all. What you do is so valuable in giving children opportunities they often don’t have and it is really helpful as a parent to get some respite.
Thankyou so much Nicole and the amazing team of coaches for this lovely weekend away. We are really grateful for an opportunity that we would not have otherwise. Alicia had a lovely time, she is all smiles every time we mention the Isle of Wight trip. And thankyou so much for making Alicia’s birthday so special. She loved the card and the lovely gift. We are forever grateful…thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.
My case is having a child with Autism and learning difficulties have been very challenging and stressful as a mother planning family life. KEEN has changed my outlook in our family life by showing me that so much is possible, by the dedication given to my children individually. KEEN has enabled my children in trying new things and activities and gaining life skills that I’ve always been anxious for my children might not be possible. KEEN has provided me with much needed break where I can relax and do other things where I’m not constantly at edge about what the children are doing , easing my anxiety having time to myself and them also away from me to establish social interaction with other children which they love so much and look forward to weekly. KEEN provides flexible and safe friendly environment for my children and I have seen a significant difference in their social interaction, communication overall happiness since attending and they look forward to attending weekly and saddened when there’s a holiday break. I can not say enough thank you to KEEN for the massive support they’ve given me over the years and the willingness to go the extra mile to support our well being we are a happy and more confident family thanks to KEEN.
Having three boys full of energy and one with autism makes it hard for me and my husband to have a moment to ourselves, Keen has been a godsend, we are able to drop the boys off and have a peaceful lunch and get a much needed break from running around. The sessions are short but enough to give us space, my other two children without autism love going to Keen as it involves other special needs children and have said, our brother is not the only one with autism. This has helped them to understand better that we are not the only family. I can’t thank your work enough. Truly, it’s something we all look forward to so we can break the day and continue the afternoon hopefully in peace!
KEEN has been a very engaging and enjoyable experience for all my three children. As they are of varying ranges in age, the activities are very versatile and caters to their character and personalities well. They absolutely love the sessions and talk about it regularly throughout the week! The policy of inclusion is admirable and has given all participants especially my three an insight into many different aspects of human relations, tolerance and understanding. Also, encouraging sporting and stamina based physical activities suited to all individual needs are a total plus point. Alparslan has thrived especially on basketball and has demonstrated his shooting skills even at school, where they have been amazed. In the past, he was not that interested in basketball. Since KEEN, we can’t get him off the courts! Amira, also full of energy, enjoys the various physical activities offered as well as engaging with the coaches who challenge her thoughts to the max. She loves a good challenge! Shamil thrives on the interactions at KEEN and before KEEN he was seen as quite a shy and quiet child with not much engagement with his peers at school. The sessions attended at Petchey every Saturday and the responsive coaches he has had have all given a boost in self-esteem and confidence and he is now more expressive within his peer interactions. Also, he has gained more stamina than he previously had! Both Alparslan and Amira thoroughly enjoyed the Isle of Wight experience which was brilliantly organised and very interactive. It has given all participants an insight into different cultures and brought together people from all walks of life, working and participating in so many exciting group activities together. Life skills were a plus side and remains a plus side in all KEEN sessions and we hope to see further sessions arranged in the near future. KEEN is certainly giving ALL children, disabled, additional needs and even normal neuro an area to channel their energy in a productive and constructive manner in a supported, safe and conducive environment. Efficient and effective management from yourself is a total plus point for all of us and BRAVO and well done to that! The team/coaches are brilliant and a credit to you! Many thanks to all. Keep up the great effort as delivery is excellent!
I know Paul has responded to your email but I just wanted to add my thanks for an absolutely smashing weekend. The amount of thought and planning was very evident as the groups seemed to work really well. Everyone on Felix’s group had a chance to shine and they were all surprising in so many ways. The climbing wall turned out to be Felix’s forte as he has never managed to coordinate actually climbing up it before! However, watching Ella and Darcy also manage a successful climb was wonderful and Gabriel’s agility was a terrific surprise! The 4 x 4 driving was also a success and I am sure Gabriel’s parents would have been bowled over with his care and attention to detail and driving us all very safely around the track. The orienteering showed us what a great guide to the great outdoors that Andrew is from map reading to wild life knowledge. Darcy did so well writing down all the letters on the squares correctly. Felix managed to spot a box that had been overlooked and Gabriel enjoyed looking at the helicopter and jeep. The water sofa was a real highlight and Felix’s smile was very evident! All your amazing volunteers did such a terrific job. Every child and young adult benefitted from their patience, knowledge and enthusiasm. For many of us this is the only “holiday” experience we have all year so thank you so much for providing it. Felix would never have been able to experience all these wonderful things if it were not for KEEN London. I fear his condition is showing no signs of improvement so to see him rise to all these new challenges was wonderful. The two to one support really did make it all possible. It was truly a privilege to witness everyone having such a good time. We were blessed with the right sort of weather too. So thank you for allowing us to come and support Felix!
I just wanted to say a big thank you to you for the trip to the Isle of Wight with Alfred. He enjoyed it a lot and it’s really noticeable how much confidence it gives him to go away independently and have a good time with you all. The work you do is invaluable especially in giving parents time to have rest or give more attention to siblings who often miss out as a result of the dominance of their disabled siblings needs.
KEEN is an amazing organisation. My kids love it and look forward to the sessions every week. Each child has a coach which means every child fulfils their potential and has the maximum amount of fun possible. The coaches are all so enthusiastic, friendly and patient. We are so grateful for the sessions. They are a lifeline for us. My daughter has made friends, grown in confidence and improved her social and physical skills. Thank you keen.
James is more adventurous since anticipating KEEN residential. He takes more pride in himself how much he can do and fun can be in outdoor activities. His confidence level definitely shoot up! All about healthy body, healthy mind. I think KEEN London delivers it very well. I never seen him so much to talk about where he’s been up to and he says that his friends will be so jealous if they know he’s been driving 4X4 Zeep!!! Now I just need to buy one then;). He’s maturing verbally as well as physically. Before he had limited choices of activities without his family’s support. He and his father can see now why I pushed him to go KEEN London during the week. He is able to picture in his mind that a small block of bowling or activities into conclusion part of a big session, such as residential getaway. I deeply appreciate KEEN’s effort and their energy to run the course like this for summer holiday. Otherwise it can be a quite dull summer holiday because I am not that rich to whisk him away!!!
We felt very confident for James to go on the residential in the knowledge that he would be well cared for and that the Keen team had good knowledge and experience of their athletes beforehand to give them a safe and great experience away from home. He really looked forward to it before the trip and was so excited packing is bag daily in the week before! James clearly had a lovely time (despite inclement weather) and somehow seemed a little more independent on his return. It was great that he could tell us some of the things he had done and feel so excited by it.
It was Adam’s first residential trip away from his family. He was very excited and also anxious. I thought Keen did an amazing job looking after the athletes. We were updated throughout the day which was reassuring. The athletes were kept busy throughout their trip. Adam came back very happy and made lots of friends. He was very excited to share what he did on the trip and asked if he could go again.
The amount of thought and planning was very evident as the groups seemed to work really well. Everyone on Felix’s group had a chance to shine and they were all surprising in so many ways. The climbing wall turned out to be Felix’s forte as he has never managed to coordinate actually climbing up it before! However, watching Ella and Darcy also manage a successful climb was wonderful and Gabriel’s agility was a terrific surprise! The 4 x 4 driving was also a success and I am sure Gabriel’s parents would have been bowled over with his care and attention to detail and driving us all very safely around the track! The orienteering showed us what a great guide to the great outdoors that Andrew is from map reading to wild life knowledge. Darcy did so well writing down all the letters on the squares correctly. Felix managed to spot a box that had been overlooked and Gabriel enjoyed looking at the helicopter and jeep. The water sofa was a real highlight and Felix’s smile was very evident! All your amazing volunteers did such a terrific job. Every child and young adult benefitted from their patience, knowledge and enthusiasm!
For many of us this is the only “holiday” experience we have all year so thank you so much for providing it. Felix would never have been able to experience all these wonderful things if it were not for KEEN London. I fear his condition is showing no signs of improvement so to see him rise to all these new challenges was wonderful. The two to one support really did make it all possible. It was truly a privilege to witness everyone having such a good time. We were blessed with the right sort of weather too. So thank you for allowing us to come and support Felix!
I wanted to comment on how amazing KEEN is and how much it has helped my son and us as a family. My son has asd and struggles in social situations.KEEN have been fantastic in helping him overcome this. The coaches are so dedicated and brilliant in all that they do. From encouraging and guiding my son to join in activities to recognising and helping them when he needed time out. My son with asd has also loved being able to attend with his (non asd) brother. Thank you KEEN for being so inclusive and also enabling us to have brief respite- safe in the knowledge our children were enjoying themselves! I have recommended KEEN to other families who have children with similar difficulties. Well done and again thank you so much!
I wanted to thank you for having us this term. It has been brilliant. The sessions are well organised and I’m confident my children are happy and safe with you. All the volunteers have been friendly and able to tell me what’s happened each week. Edie was initially very apprehensive but has settled and really looks forward to it. Florence, her sister has loved it too. They have had the opportunity to try new things, be around new friends and be active. They have been able to start to build relationships with other children and we have been able to meet new parents. You’ve been sensitive to our needs and we are really grateful to be part of it. Thanks so much for all,y our hard work and we will miss you over the summer. See you in September and thanks so much again.
It’s that time of year again and here is coach Chris with his report from the KEEN London summer residential 2017 trip: KEEN’s summer residential has a reputation as one of the highlights of the KEEN calendar. This year was certainly no exception and provided fun and laughter in abundance. We arrived at PGL Marchants Hill Adventure Centre in Surrey late on Friday afternoon. After settling in and refuelling at our accommodation, we headed down into the woods for a bonfire. Friday night was a typical British summer’s night – raining - but this didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. We were still able to get a bonfire going, [...]