Khalil Munroe scores with Kicks for Kids
Many young minds wander aimlessly, not knowing, let alone fulfilling, their purpose in the game of life. But for Khalil Munroe, he served up a solid tie-breaker, scoring outstandingly when he started his very own foundation, Kicks for Kids.
"In June 2011, after a trip to the Beatitudes Home (for children with special needs) in Golden Spring, St Andrew, I was overwhelmed by the courage of the wards and the men (Missionaries of the Poor) who were charged with overseeing the development of these children. These children have varying degrees of physical and mental disabilities, which leaves them in a particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged state," Munroe told Outlook.
Moved by the visit, Munroe left the children's home with a renewed sense of purpose, "No matter how small; a difference in the lives of these children and other children in similar positions could be made. The Kicks for Kids Foundation is a direct manifestation of this visit."
Munroe explained that he had always wanted to advocate for those with special needs, from as early as 1993. "I went to the Hope Valley Experimental School for two years as a young boy. This experience forever changed how I viewed children with special needs and gave me greater understanding of the unique challenges that this minority group faces," he notes.
Munroe explained that the Kicks for Kids Foundation is a registered charity in Jamaica whose mission includes "establishing a principal entity that garners donations and awareness for at-risk children with a specific emphasis on those with special needs, and improving the economic and social conditions of indigent children across Jamaica through the collection and distribution of food, clothing, money (and other necessary supplies)."
How do they go about doing this? Through fundraisers in the form of a popular sport in Jamaica - football. Their annual six-a-side charity football competition comprises teams signing up to compete and on game day, everything unfolds - for football fans and those not about the sporting life. Proceeds from the registration and the event itself go directly towards the foundation, which in turn makes donations to the Beatitudes Home. "Relentless fundraising was the basis upon which we started the foundation, and we continue to work hard to try and give a voice to a sometimes voiceless group," he affirmed.
Cloud with a silver lining
But every victory comes with their fair share of hardships. Munroe points out that his biggest obstacle thus far has been actually getting the foundation registered. "Due to changes in the Charities Act, the process of becoming a registered charity is arduous to say the least. We had to change aspects of our articles of incorporation in order to be compliant with the statute."
The overall process he highlighted was not only costly, but time-consuming as well. In the end it was all worth it. "Being a legitimate registered charity opens doors for us that would have otherwise been closed- in that respect, the pros greatly outweigh the cons."
Additionally, creating awareness and raising funds also pose as an issue, "Times are particularly austere in our society, and this causes people to be unable to donate as much and/or as frequently as they would like, so that is a great challenge." This has caused Munroe to be more creative with fundraising.
The young scholar has a lot under his belt, having already pursued his first degree in management studies at the University of the West Indies, and is currently reading for a LLB at the University of Technology while working at a small law firm in the Corporate Area. So, it is very challenging balancing it all, especially during this month and the following one, since this is the time the annual fundraising six-a-side charity football competition and games day take place. "Time management is key. There's a whole new world that opens after my regular workday ends," he confessed.
But the sky is the limit for Munroe and his foundation. "I would like to have a minimum of two grants for children at risk or with special needs so that they can develop their skills as best as possible and further their education. I also hope to bring significant infrastructural changes to the Beatitudes Home. I want the children to be as comfortable as possible in their surroundings."
His advice to those who feels the same way he does and want to start a foundation? Start. "The beginnings of Kicks for Kids Foundation were quite humble. I started selling concert tickets and snacks to raise money, and it slowly developed from there. Also, leverage your social media presence (if you have one). Most people already spend so much time on their particular social-media platform of choice; use these persons to your advantage and help the less fortunate in the process. It is a win-win situation."
If you would like to support the Kicks for Kids Foundation movement, you can donate at their Go Fund Me initiative at www.gofundme.com/5dj2hg email email@example.com or like their Facebook page www.facebook.com/ KicksForKidsFoundation.