What is KEEN?

KEEN is a registered charity and a joint organisation of Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University. We provide social, sporting and recreational activities for children and adults with special needs in the surrounding area.

Who goes to KEEN?

There are currently about 200 people with special needs using our services. Each year they will be supported by around 300 volunteers.

KEEN athletes (the children that attend our sessions) have a wide range of physical and learning disabilities. Our definition of special needs is very broad and we rarely turn people away! Our coaches (volunteers) are mostly local students and young professionals.

What activities does KEEN run?

We run four regular, weekly sessions during Oxford University term times: AllSorts, Zig-Zag, KEEN Teens and GrEAT Social. GrEAT Sports, our newest session, runs all year round. All are positively brimming with fun and excitement!

AllSorts is our Saturday sports session for athletes aged 4-25. Each week we rotate around three different activities, covering a whole range of sports, from old favourites such as football and basketball to slightly more unusual activities like cheerleading and quidditch!

Zig-Zag is our performing arts session, held on Thursdays, aimed at younger children. Each session features an exciting mash-up of music, dance, craft and games. Every block of sessions follows a different theme, covering anything from nursery rhymes to Horrible Histories; myths and legends to Hollywood blockbusters.

KEEN Teens, held on early Monday evenings, is our social club for teenagers. We get up to all sorts of shenanigans, including cooking, fun science experiments, a multitude of games and even murder mystery nights!

GrEAT Social is our social club for over 18s. It’s very easygoing, and sessions can feature anything from bowling to campfires, pub quizzes and even owls!

GrEAT Sports is our newest session, providing sporting activities to over-18s. We work in three-week cycles so that members can get a proper introduction to each sport we try.

In addition, we run a variety of daytrips and special events, as well as some smaller holiday activities, known as KEEN+ or GrEAT+.

What is KEEN’s ethos?

We believe that everyone deserves to have fun! We believe in treating people as people, rather than whatever their diagnosis may be. We aim to provide a diverse range of activities in a friendly, understanding environment where everyone can participate, regardless of their special needs. All our volunteers are brimming with enthusiasm, and try their hardest to get everyone involved.

How is KEEN run?

We rely on the hard work, dedication and sheer enthusiasm shown by our volunteers! KEEN has only three employees: two full time coordinators for the main KEEN branch and for GrEAT and one part-time office administrator, who are responsible for the general behind the scenes running of KEEN.  The direction of the charity is shaped by a board of trustees and the coordinator is facilitated by a committee of volunteers.

Our policy document is available here: KEEN Policies and Procedures