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Back to School is the Perfect Time to Give Back

For many children in Oklahoma City, sports are a daily fixture of their lives. Some of them hit the field with their team after school or travel several hours to play games. Still others independently carve hours out of their day set aside for honing their skills on the court. Sports and physical activity provide an outlet for energy, a place to clear one’s head, as well as an important breeding ground for invaluable lessons such as diligence and teamwork. 

The benefits of sports, however, are not just nebulous. In fact, studies have shown that athletes achieve better academic outcomes than their non-athlete peers. Applying that directly to Oklahoma City Public Schools, a study in 2016 reported that athletes in the district experienced a 16% higher graduation rate overall and 6% higher attendance. Many teachers will tell you that kids engaged in regular physical activity are also ready to learn and focused in class, be it to keep their grades for their eligibility or because of the healthy outlet they’ve found. 

Many parents know that sports come with a price tag. The cost varies by sport, but for some it can reach into the hundreds. In a district like Oklahoma City where one in four families live below the poverty line, many parents have to choose between participation and keeping their family afloat. As a result, some kids find themselves relegated to spectator. 

If you're familiar with our mission, you know that C4K meets the issue of accessibility head-on by providing sports shoes and equipment to Oklahoma athletes of all ages and skill levels free of charge. It is a unique, one-of-a-kind mission in the community because it empowers kids to pursue their passion for sports and, in turn, change lives. When a child leaves the C4K Locker Room wearing a pair of well-fitting cleats or running shoes, they feel confident in themselves. That confidence can create a ripple effect through their entire life from social development to academic achievement. 

But where does the equipment come from? C4K is able to provide this equipment free of charge through community drives and 24 drop-off donation centers found across the metro area. Once the gear is collected, hundreds of volunteers sort it and place it on shelves. We are so grateful for the service of our volunteers. Our Mission couldn't be achieved without them. 

The best part about equipment collection is that much of our inventory comes from other kids. From Devin, the boy from Midwest City who forgoes birthday gifts to collect equipment each year, to the hundreds of middle and high school students serving on our Junior Varsity and Varsity Boards, C4K exists because of our youth volunteers. We place a high value on the idea of “kids helping kids” because we believe the young people in our community are natural philanthropists. Teaching children of all ages that helping others should be a regular practice will without a doubt make for a stronger and more equitable Oklahoma City. 

Above all we believe in getting more done together, which is why we’re always looking for new families, businesses, students and organizations to collaborate with. As school begins this Fall, even the smallest action such as cleaning out your closet could mean the world to a child in your own backyard. You could even enlist your kids to help sort through their outgrown sports equipment and clothing and talk to them about what they love about sports and why they think other kids should be able to play them too. Connecting with your child based on their passion and personal experience will help them remember the great feeling they had when the were able to help someone else.

If you and your family have donations ready for our Locker Room, C4K will be collecting equipment at the Paseo District's First Friday on September 7, 2018. Look for C4K donation boxes throughout the Paseo to donate new or gently used equipment for any sport and of any size or type. 

--- The preceding story was shared originally in the August Newsletter for the Paseo neighborhood in Oklahoma City, OK.