JUBILEE FUND: 'Help keep us in the game'

JUBILEE FUND: 'Help keep us in the game'

Keen in action

Chris Jones

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

A CHARITY that opens up a world of sport and fun to disabled youngsters says Jubilee Fund cash would help keep them ‘in the game’.

Keen (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now), based in Turl Street, Oxford, offers sporting activities to about 240 children and young adults with special needs (ranging from five to 30-plus) – these are the Keen ‘athletes’.

The Keen ‘coaches’ are there to provide support for the athletes during sessions and are made up of about 300 students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes as well as local people, usually between 16 and 25.

Keen runs four weekly activities during the Oxford University term including a Saturday sports session, a drama and crafts workshop and two social clubs. It also takes its athletes on trips to places like Birmingham Sea Life Centre and the Science Museum, and everything is free, including transport.

Chris Jones, 28, and from Oxford, is the co-ordinator of Keen.

He explained: “Keen was started by American student Elliott Portnoy at New College in 1988. It started out small and used to help children with disabilities take part in mainly tennis.

“But Keen has grown into a much bigger group over the years and now helps a large number of children take part in a variety of sporting activities.

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“We work with children with a huge range of disabilities, from mild learning difficulties to quadriplegia, Down’s Syndrome to Autism.”

As with most small charities, funding Keen is a constant juggling act.

Mr Jones explained: “We have small government grants, but around 70 per cent of our funding comes from trusts and foundations. We simply couldn’t operate without people’s generosity and so the Jubilee Fund could be very good news for us.”

The Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire, launched in January, marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year and aims to raise millions of pounds to support small community groups and charities throughout Oxfordshire, like Keen.

Businesses, groups and individuals throughout the county are all being encouraged to get involved and donate or raise cash in any way they can for the fund.

The Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire is being overseen by the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

Foundation chief executive Jayne Woodley said: “The activities Keen provide are free to everyone and really make a huge difference to over 200 people in Oxford. The Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire will help support these sorts of community groups.”

To get involved with the Jubilee Fund email jubilee@oxfordshire.org, call 01865 798666, or drop into OCF’s offices at 3 Woodins Way, Oxford.

Alternatively, donate by phone by texting JBLE 12 to 70070 with a donation. To apply for Jubilee Fund cash, visit oxfordshire.org For details on Keen visit keenoxford.org

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