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Athletes For Kids serves children in 1st-9th grades who have disabilities and special needs of all kinds.
We carefully match each child with a qualified high school athlete, who commits to mentoring a child for one to three years. Once a mentorship is formed, the pair meets two to four times a month.
Mentor candidates are referred to our program by other AFK Mentors, coaches, teachers, Athletic Directors, and community members. Every applicant must pass a thorough screening and background check before being accepted into our program. Once selected, they are required to attend an intensive training, followed by monthly group meetings where they receive ongoing training and support from our Program Manager. The training topics are all based on evidenced based best practices for mentoring.
Athletes For Kids began in 2001 when a young boy in Sammamish, WA with a difficult medical condition was being teased, bullied, and ostracized by his peers because of it. The boy's mother and father believed that if their son could have one supportive relationship outside of family, it could turn the boy's life around.
The parents were introduced to a star local athlete, Simi Reynolds, from nearby Skyline High School in Sammamish, who agreed to spend time with their son each week as a mentor. That relationship became so life-changing for their son that Simi agreed to recruit a group of fellow athletes at Skyline to mentor other children with medical conditions, disabilities, and special needs of all kinds. In 2002, Athletes For Kids was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and established the first mentor chapter made up of six athletes from Skyline High School.
Beginning with a small chapter of eight students in Sammamish, AFK has expanded over the years to serve children in the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish and Woodinville.
We now serve over 350 youth annually, and have served over 1,500 youth since our founding.
Few other programs match mentors and mentees from the same generation, and who live in the same neighborhoods. Our program is distinctive in that it pairs a high school athlete with a child in a developing mentorship. The two work together to find common ground and learn from each other in a variety of ways. Both participants bring their own interests and abilities to the mentorship, and over time, many of the pairings grow into strong friendships.
The AFK program helps mentee “buddies” cope with social challenges while also expanding awareness for our mentors about the hurdles their buddies may face on a daily basis. Each have experienced similar situations, from the challenges of fitting in on the playground or school cafeteria, to facing challenges in classroom or riding the school bus. Our mentors have firsthand knowledge of what it is like for today’s youth when it comes to current issues such as social media and the constant presence of technology in their environment.
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