2017: A year to remember!

It isn’t easy to summarize a year at Kids in the Game – there are so many small victories that go unseen with the children we work with. Measuring confidence, friendships, perseverance, and just plain fun are not always possible. However, we close out 2017 knowing that those are the wins that we are most proud of. Our organization’s purpose is to change the way New York City children are growing up and this year was a huge step towards reaching our goals. Reading through our 2015 and 2016 reviews, we continue to make tremendous progress and find ourselves more and more excited about what is yet to come. Here are some of the highlights from the year and what you can expect to see from KING in 2018:

1. We continue to expand and serve more schools and families across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx – we worked with over 16,000 children this year across summer camps, school programming, and our travel teams. Our team has approached ~100 talented coaches, yet we still feel like a family in our approach.

2. We had our best summer yet! Our 4 summer camps served ~700 families from June to August as we continued to add new and creative programming for the kids. We had an emphasis on improving our swimming program, adding lessons and better facilities. There was also more interaction between our camps, as we had days that our older camps went to other sites to meet new friends and have some healthy competition. We had fun building out our theme weeks (ie Camp Olympics, Through the Decades, Spirit Week, Superhero Week, etc) and have some creative ideas for 2018 in the works. Our newest location was opened in Park Slope, and look forward to announcing our 5th location for 2018 here shortly!

3. Although we have a team full of active, energetic, sports lovers, we also consciously opened our mind in 2017 to how technology can enhance what we do. We grew our partnership with CodingKidz, providing after-school and summer camp programs in Robotics, Coding, and Video Game Design, as well as made November ‘Sports Technology’ month across all our schools. Our kids collectively walked to Australia in November (measured by our Fitbits), we had SportsTechie cover our Virtual Reality event at Corpus Christi School, and started meeting as a team to talk about other technology and innovation that will help engage more children and enhance our sports programs. It certainly won’t replace what we do at the core, but always looking for ways to improve!

4. Our travel teams continued to make us oh so proud. KING Hoops had 5 teams playing this fall between middle school and high school, with kids coming from many of our schools and communities we work in throughout the year. We won our first tournament this year in Connecticut, and almost all age groups made tournament runs more regularly. Winning isn’t everything, but we’re a competitive group! KING Spikes, our volleyball program, continued to grow and is primed for a big year in 2018. We launched KING Speed, our track and field program, led by Suzie Clinchy who joined our team this year. We are so proud of the programs we’ve run in schools (PS 188M, Blessed Sacrament, Rebecca School, Leman Manhattan) and of our kids that are starting to run in competitive meets around the city. We take a lot of pride in wearing KING on our jersey and the way our players represent us and continue to grow.

5. Furthering our mission to reach all children in NYC, our non-profit KING Kids has made tremendous progress in bridging the opportunity gap. In our first full year of operation, we were humbled by the amount of support and empathy people have for making sure all schools and families have access to positive coaches and opportunities to play sports. We built a junior board of talented young professionals that have helped us drive the movement and fundraise for scholarships and new programming. Our team hosted our first large fundraising event, a 3 on 3 tournament at St Francis, with over 20 teams. We ran our first corporate volunteer day with VML Foundation, donating sports equipment to 3 public schools across Harlem and the Bronx. We’ve added life skills workshops and academic support opportunities for all our travel teams. We built a website. Tons of good work, and the best part is that we are just getting started! So much to do in 2018 in our community and we appreciate everyone’s willingness to help our cause!

6. Not always apparent to our families or schools, but we have turned inward to make staff development and training a top priority as an organization. Both personal and professional development is a big part of working at KING, which ultimately helps us grow together and run better and better programs in the community. That will continue to be the case in 2018!

Our team continues to believe in the power of sports and positive coaching to help kids grow. Although not something we typically share with our following, our internal core values are what continues to drive our decision making and what we truly believe in while we work with youth. We wanted to share them with you below to give you some insight into what we are all about and our team’s daily focus as we continue strengthening our programs.

1. Radiate positivity and a family spirit
2. Lead by example through healthy habits
3. Embrace individual strengths and diverse backgrounds
4. Present solutions, not problems
5. Be resourceful and creative – do more with less
6. Constant pursuit of personal growth and learning
7. See the big picture
8. Be a world-class communicator
9. Work as a team, play as a team, grow as a team
10. Strive to always be the best part of our kids’ day

Thank you to everyone that has made 2017 such a year to remember. The support we get from principals, parents, coaches, partners, friends, and family is what keeps us energized and healthy. More to come from KING!