Our Unique Mentorship Model
Athletes For Kids serves children in 1st-12th grades who have disabilities and special needs of all kinds.
We carefully match each child with a qualified high school athlete, who commits to mentoring a child for one to three years. Once a mentorship is formed, the pair meets two to four times a month.
Mentor candidates are referred to our program by other AFK Mentors, coaches, teachers, Athletic Directors, and community members. Every applicant must pass a thorough screening and background check before being accepted into our program. Once selected, they are required to attend an intensive training, followed by monthly group meetings where they receive ongoing training and support from our Mentorship Coordinator. The training topics are all based on evidenced based best practices for mentoring.
How it Works
Few other programs match mentors and mentees from the same generation, and who live in the same neighborhoods. Our program is distinctive in that it pairs a high school athlete with a child in a developing mentorship. The two work together to find common ground and learn from each other in a variety of ways. Both participants bring their own interests and abilities to the mentorship, and over time, many of the pairings grow into strong friendships.
The AFK program helps mentee “buddies” cope with social challenges while also expanding awareness for our mentors about the hurdles their buddies may face on a daily basis. Each have experienced similar situations, from the challenges of fitting in on the playground or school cafeteria, to facing challenges in classroom or riding the school bus. Our mentors have firsthand knowledge of what it is like for today’s youth when it comes to current issues such as social media and the constant presence of technology in their environment.
Our Core Values
Youth First- Every decision we make is based on how it will affect the youth we serve. Attention to safety, growth, wellness, leadership, and learning necessary life skills is our focus.
Community- We build connections and collaborate with other partners to complement existing resources to accomplish more. We help strengthen our communities through education and engagement.
Relationship - We believe that having a compassionate and supportive relationship outside of the family has the power to restore hope in a child’s life. Many mentorships turn into friendships which improve a child’s quality of life, happiness, confidence, and self-esteem.
Inclusion- We promote kindness and acceptance while celebrating, respecting, and including the rich diversity that make up our AFK family.
Integrity- We conduct business in a way that is honest, transparent, and ethical so that we continuously earn our donors, stakeholders and the public’s high regard. We hold ourselves accountable to being good stewards of the resources bequeathed to us.
Excellence- Our experienced, knowledgeable and passionate staff are committed to providing the highest quality of service to the youth and families we serve.
Athletes for Kids envisions a community where children of all abilities are celebrated. We strive to continually lead with our values of kindness,
acceptance, and inclusion and with these values we strengthen our community. We recognize that an inclusive and diverse work environment respects the unique characteristics, skills, and experiences of all our employees and board members. Our commitment to inclusion across race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and identity makes our vision a reality.
Athletes For Kids began in 2001 when a young boy in Sammamish, WA with a difficult medical condition was being teased, bullied, and ostracized by his peers because of it. The boy's mother and father believed that if their son could have one supportive relationship outside of family, it could turn the boy's life around.
The parents were introduced to a star local athlete, Simi Reynolds, from nearby Skyline High School in Sammamish, who agreed to spend time with their son each week as a mentor. That relationship became so life-changing for their son that Simi agreed to recruit a group of fellow athletes at Skyline to mentor other children with medical conditions, disabilities, and special needs of all kinds. In 2002, Athletes For Kids was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and established the first mentor chapter made up of six athletes from Skyline High School.
Beginning with a small chapter of eight students in Sammamish, AFK has expanded over the years to serve children in the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville.
We now serve 417 youth annually, and have served over 2,500 youth since our founding.