Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. When 17 year old Sophie from St. Louis realized she, her neighbors, and their twin sons who are on the autism spectrum were walking in the same direction at the same time, she volunteered to walk the boys to school on a daily basis. From her time with the boys, Sophie learned that although they were very excited about the concept of sports, they were unable to participate. After connecting with organizations such as Autism Speaks, Sophie used her K4C award to host Sports-4-All summer sports clinics for young children on the spectrum. She rented field space and equipment and purchased healthy snacks for participants. She has plans to host future clinics throughout the school year.
- How many volunteers participated in your project? How many hours did it involve? We had over 750 teen volunteers participate in our five Sports-4-All clinics, engaging youth with autism and special needs with high school students. We offered basketball, soccer, swimming, running and tennis clinics. The project involved over 350 hours of volunteer service.
- What did you learn from this experience? We learned the importance of kindness and offering one-on-one support, and the need for inclusion in sports. There are few opportunities in our community for youth on the autism spectrum or kids with Down Syndrome to participate in recreational sports activities.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? We plan to offer more sports clinics in the spring and fall. The positive response from the participants, their parents, and the youth volunteers was huge. We will continue with our plans to expand the clinics throughout the year. To learn more about future clinics we have scheduled, go here.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. Our project was successful by focusing on inclusion, physical fitness, and the importance of engaging youth in volunteer service. Teens enjoy helping younger children learn and acquire sports skills. The clinic allows for youth with special needs to benefit from having one-on-one sports skills training in a non-competitive environment. Our goal is to get all youth moving and promote fitness for all youth. We try to make it a fun and engaging experience for both the participants and the volunteers.
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? The grant helped pay for the rental of the facilities and purchase healthy snacks for the participants and volunteers. Without the grant we would not have been able to reserve the facilities and plan for our events.