Volunteers’ Blog

Welcome to KEEN 2016-2017

by James Spyt

Hello KEEN people.

A new term has arrived and that can only mean one thing. KEEN is back with lots of fun and exciting sessions to look forward too. I don’t know about you guys but I certainly cannot wait. YAY, GO KEEN!!!

For those volunteers new to KEEN, we welcome you into the family with open arms. We are really happy to have you here and we hope you enjoy yourself. The people of KEEN are always grateful for the time and effort volunteers are willing to give. We have no doubt that you will create many hDSCF607512appy memories and meet many wonderful people. There is a place for you all at KEEN.

The volunteering opportunities at KEEN are endless. There are a variety of sessions you can come along and get involved in at your leisure. You can also contribute to the running of sessions by suggesting ideas for themes or you can even become a “session leader” and help run activities.

What is great about KEEN is that we are flexible as we allow volunteers to get involved in as much or as little as they would like. There is no minimum commitment required! However, if you think that you would like to help out in other ways outside of sessions, KEEN always has opportunities. Most of these will be through the KEEN Volunteer Committee, whose purpose is to let KEEN volunteers take a lead in all aspects of KEEN’s existence. There are many roles available, from fundraising to social media and beyond. There are also blog posts such as this one which you can contribute to, or if you like baking, you are welcome to provide volunteers with tasty treats at any of the sessions (as I often do).

Whichever part of KEEN interests you, we know you will be awesome and fit right in. We look forward to seeing you.

KEEN love

james blog

Ever wondered about KEEN London?

As the new KEEN term starts, I cast my mind back to the end of last term. To finish it off, KEEN Oxford were invited to a session run by KEEN London (East). Attended by a few of the regular volunteers of KEEN Oxford, this was a chance for us to learn about how they run their sessions and to discover more about how the charity’s model has expanded beyond Oxford.


The session was their equivalent to AllSorts which was full of energy and enthusiasm. In contrast to at KEEN Oxford, there was only one session mixing athletes of all ages together. Access was only available to the one hall and compared to AllSorts the athletes were not divided into different groups. Most athletes were paired with at least two volunteers and the session was run by a single leader.

To begin, instead of the KEEN Oxford tradition of “duck, duck, goose”, we played a few warm up games which haven’t made an appearance at AllSorts for a while; these were “Rhythm Master” and the “Bean” game. The Rhythm Master is a fun game where one athlete is chosen to be the ‘Rhythm Master’ and one athlete the ‘Rhythm detective’. The rhythm master then chooses what movements they will carry out and the rest should copy. During the game the rhythm master will change their movements and the others must continue to follow. It is the job of the detective to try and work out who the rhythm master is and they have three guesses. I was very impressed by ability of the detectives, especially one athlete who managed to guess correctly within what seemed a matter of seconds. Clearly, everyone must know each other very well!

The Bean game is much more physical and energetic. The idea is that the leader calls out different Bean commands, each of which have an associated action.  Upon calling out each Bean command, the athletes must perform the action. Examples include Runner Bean where you must jog on the spot or Baked Bean where you curl into a ball shape. How many different Beans can you think of?

Once the warm up was finished, the session burst into life. It was frantic and wild, with athletes running around and volunteers chasing after them. You’d have thought the volunteers needed eyes on the back of their heads to keep track of who was doing what. But amongst the chaos there was a sense of organisation because everywhere you looked there were different games taking place. These included “Sleeping Lions”, “Stuck in the Mud”, “Musical Statues”, “What’s the Time Mister Wolf”, “Dodge Ball”, “Cricket”, and “Basketball”. Yes you did read correctly, dodge ball was an activity which we played. Soft balls were used and volunteers were on high alert for any accidents. I am glad to report we had no casualties and the athletes (and volunteers) had loads of fun trying to avoid the many bouncing balls.

As the session drew to a close, it was clear to me the sense of warmth and friendship throughout. Thanks KEEN London. We had a blast and we welcome you to visit us in Oxford.


james blog

My Story – A New Experience

by James Spyt


As one door closes, another one opens. Hello beautiful KEEN family.

For those of you who do not know me, my name is James and I recently joined KEEN as a volunteer. I moved to Oxford after graduating from university in Scotland where I grew up. The decision to move elsewhere was a difficult one with many factors to consider as I had to make sure this was right for me. DSCF6075

Transcending into a new environment has been an adventure which has brought many challenges. Moving to a new place represents new beginnings and presents one with the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

Where was I to find these friendly faces?

This was a question I kept asking myself as I went in search of the answer. To every cloud there is a silver lining and for me that was KEEN. I approached KEEN quite tentative and nervous as I was unsure what to expect. I have volunteered for a few charities in the past as I have a real passion and desire to make a difference in people’s lives and KEEN came across as the perfect opportunity for me to achieve this. I have been volunteering with KEEN for one term and already I have made many friends. It was a slow start as I always have trouble taking the first step. I struggle to communicate with people because I lack the confidence to approach others. However, the volunteers from KEEN have been wonderful and have made me feel accepted. Certain KEEN volunteers have taken the time to introduce themselves and to get to know me more and it is this which makes KEEN a special organisation to be part of.

Love has a habit of spreading and I intend to guide it on its way by sprinkling my joy and happiness throughout KEEN. Some of you may have already noticed that I am fast becoming the KEEN supplier of baked goods. This is my way of passing on my warmth to you all. If you have any baking requests or suggestions please don’t hesitate to ask or forever hold your silence.

I will also be giving the volunteer blog posts some much needed attention so watch out for that and give it a read.

I would like to end my story with a short dialogue between one of the Athletes and myself during my first AllSorts session.

Athlete: “Is this your first time?”

Volunteer: “Yes it is”

Athlete: “It’s my first time too.”

Athlete: “Can I tell you something? I think I made a special friend

james blog

The KEEN Trustees

by Kate Sankey

Having held almost every role KEEN has to offer, from volunteer to co-ordinator, I found myself keen to share my knowledge and experience so becoming a KEEN trustee seemed like great idea.

The KEEN trustees meet a couple of times a term to guide and support the co-ordinator in running the charity, as well as helping to shape its future. The board of trustees is a diverse group, made up of members of the local community who give their time for free. It brings together parents and volunteers as well other local professionals; all of whom bring a variety of skills which aid the running of KEEN. Every year the trustees attend our end of year celebration, the KEEN Olympics, to witness firsthand all the fun KEEN brings to local children with special needs!

For me being a KEEN trustee gives me the opportunity to give back to an organisation that has given me so much and I’m proud to be a part of such an amazing charity.

For more information about becoming a KEEN trustee please contact the chair of KEEN Trustees at chairoftrustees@keenoxford.org.

A Hard Act to Follow

by Katy Boncey

Now that the dust has settled following an amazing 2011-2012 year of KEEN, concluded of course by the traditional KEEN Olympics, I’ve had time to look back and think of some of my favourite sessions. Here’s a rundown of some of my highlights during Chris Jones’ year as KEEN co-ordinator.

1. Dinosaurs at Zig-Zag

We travelled to Jurassic Park as part of our action movies theme at Zig Zag. The dinosaur costumes we had spent hours paper maché-ing and painting proved a big hit with our athletes and during the session we just managed to escape from the frightening T-rex!

2. Sherlock Holmes at KEEN Teens

At KEEN Teens we tried to think of lots of new and exciting sessions this year for our ever growing group. One of my favourites involved us helping Sherlock Holmes to solve an intricate murder mystery. We had to dust for fingerprints, interview the suspects and look for clues in order to find out whodunit!

3. The Lion King Treasure Hunt

On a very hot summer day we held our annual treasure hunt, this year it was themed around The Lion King. We searched for bugs and ran through an obstacle course with our villain Scar in hot pursuit with his water pistol.

4. Owls at GrEAT

One of the most exciting GrEAT sessions of the year was when we invited some impressive feathered friends along. As well as posing for photos with all our members the owls put on an impressive aerial display in St Clements Family Centre.

5. Science at KEEN Teens

KEEN teens went off with a bang (and lots of smoke) during our science night. After carrying out our own experiments the finale was to watch the explosion that ensued after adding Mentos to Coca Cola!

After so many original and exciting sessions last year we are going to have to work even harder to make this year’s KEEN even better. With only a few weeks to go until term starts again we are already putting our heads together to try and ensure KEEN celebrates its 25th birthday in style!

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