MICDS Lacrosse Players and 8th Graders Host KEEN St. Louis Event for Children with Disabilities

MICDS lacrosse players and 8th graders recently hosted an afternoon of sports and recreation for children with developmental and physical disabilities through KEEN St. Louis. KEEN St. Louis is a local affiliate of a national nonprofit, volunteer-led organization that provides free one-to-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities. KEEN stands for Kids Enjoy Exercise Now. The vision is to provide exercise, socialization and fun recreational play to children who need it most.

Simrin Phatak ‘21 and her younger sisters Happy '23 and Narya ‘27 have been volunteering with KEEN for some time, and they have enjoyed working with KEEN’s athletes and other volunteers. Simrin brought this community service opportunity to MICDS as a way to bring our mission statement to life. Simrin says “My goal is to bring KEEN St. Louis onto our campus and provide enriching volunteer experiences that will benefit our students, faculty, and KEEN athletes at the same time. I would love to create a program that can extend into my high school years and eventually leave behind a legacy of willingness to reach out to others different than ourselves.”

The MICDS lacrosse team rose to the occasion. They went through volunteer orientation and participated in a “get to know you” session with the athletes before hitting the fields together for sports, fun, and exercise. The day concluded with a sharing session in which the KEEN athletes shared the moments from the day that made them feel proud and a group “Hokey Pokey” sing- and dance-along.

The experience definitely had a positive impact on Ross Buchman ‘18 from the Varsity Lacrosse team. “Interacting with the kids from KEEN was an eye opening experience. Their positivity was truly contagious and something that will stick with me.” Reed Kearins '18 expressed a similar sentiment, "It is impossible to imagine what their lives are like, limited by their different diseases and sicknesses. However, the ability these athletes had to inspire us, was more than moving, it was life-changing. I hope these athletes felt the same joy which they put in us, and continue to both inspire the other teams they visit, and receive the same companionship they will always have with the men's lacrosse team here at MICDS."

Several more KEEN events are planned for the MICDS community. Simrin has taken a leadership role in collaborating with KEEN and MICDS. Her passion is contagious, “By working with these disabled kids, we are impacting their lives as they get to experience fun, exercise, and friendship.  And more importantly, as student volunteers we get the benefit of learning how to connect with all different types of people.  And we do it while having fun!”