Chalk talk and playing ball with NCAA Division 1 and professional athletes are the things many young kids dream about. These role models often are only seen from a distance.
Now, Connor Kids Academy is changing the game.
The program allows young men to create healthy habits, build friendships and learn life skills in a uniquely fun way – using the power of sports, top-notch athletes and coaches. CKA is operated and funded by The Connor Group’s non-profit arm, Kids & Community Partners. We opened our third market in June, launching in partnership with the University of Louisville.
Connor Kids Academy Director Alex Klein led the three-day event for 31 campers.
“The kids were engaged and just had huge smiles on their faces throughout the time,” Alex said. “From the program we provide, the special guests, the quality of the food we’re offering and the facilities and access to these incredible coaches and student-athletes. The experience consistently wows the kids.”
This good work is fueled by Connor Group associates. And for the first time, associates in our Louisville market were invited to volunteer and participated hands-on at the event.
Manager in training Ashlin Martin and sales associate Katie Smith at Sawyer East End helped greet the Connor Kids as they arrived, hyping them up for an exciting day. Armed with two jump ropes, they challenged the campers and offered them a reward of bonus points on the program’s mobile app.
“I loved seeing the parallels with our core values, reward and recognition,” Ashlin said. “It’s great to see our company taking initiative in our community to help others.
“I have two boys, ages 4 and 1. I enjoyed seeing the opportunities for kids. I’ve been blessed, and sometimes you don’t realize the opportunities you had that others didn’t have access to.”
Kaite, a mother of two, agreed the volunteer experience left her motivated and inspired.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not really good at sports myself, but it was such a rewarding experience. I left feeling good about what I do and the company I work for,” Katie said. “It was amazing. I would have loved to have stayed even longer.”
The three-day summer camp is just the beginning for these CKA participants. They’ll spend a total of 1,000 days gaining valuable character and educational experience by engaging with the app year-round and attending three events per year for the next three years.
“It’s a textured, rich, multi-layered approach that focuses on healthy habits and good choices in a fun way,” Alex said. “And we measure and assess our participants regularly just like we do at The Connor Group. They get shouted out for meeting or exceeding expectations. They receive rewards for doing so. They also get follow-ups if they aren’t meeting expectations. We hold our kids and their families highly accountable in terms of their engagement, participation and their attitude.”
We operate additional CKA programs in our Cincinnati and Dayton markets and are exploring opportunities to grow to up to 10 locations by 2027.