More than just before and after school care.
Since 2003, Kids’ Adventures has been a trusted resource for parents who need before and after school care for their children. But it wasn’t until 2014 that we decided to change the world.
At the start of that year, we decided that we wanted to be better people. We wanted to live better lives. We realize that we owed it to each other, to our families and to ourselves to live lives of greater intention and of tremendous purpose. And out of that mindset, we transformed our company. How could we not?
Our program was already solid – we offered before and after school care that kept kids safe, gave them the opportunity to get their homework done and have some fun through physical activity. But, somewhere along the line, we came to understand that we had an opportunity to teach kids the kind of life skills that would impact them for the rest of their lives. We saw that through giving kids the knowledge, tools and resources to take control of their own health and well-being, we were setting them up to be happy, healthy, productive adults, rich with purpose. And here’s the thing about that…
Happy, healthy, productive kids today means more happy, healthy, productive people tomorrow. And happy, healthy, productive people can change the world.
That’s our goal, and this is our story.
Kids’ Adventures was founded by Tom O'Connor, a driven, energetic entrepreneur with a passion for athletics and physical education. In college, while pursuing his physical education degree, Tom realized that over crowded classrooms, politics and red tape, discipline issues, and a forced one-size-fits-all approach to learning and testing was the reality of our public education system. He saw that teachers were over worked and underpaid and trying to make an impact with one arm tied behind their back. He decided that he might be able to do more good from outside the (educational, school?) system than from within it. Partnering with schools to provide before and after school care seemed like a logical place to start.
From 1992-2003, Tom worked a variety of odd-hours jobs that put food on his family’s table while struggling to make a living running before and after school programs in schools across Colorado. When he founded Kids’ Adventures in 2003, he was determined to create a company that offered exceptional before and after school care while also giving employees a place to make a good living doing what they loved to do.
In those early days, Tom worked crazy hours and tackled huge staffing and regulatory challenges on an almost daily basis. Truth be told, the company wouldn’t have survived had it not been for Tom's determination and drive. In those early days, he wore about 20 different hats - operations, training, HR, marketing, business development and even program director. Tom held the vision for what he knew Kids’ Adventures could be. Tom was the program’s driving force, providing the leadership, structure, clarity and focus they needed to survive and grow. In essence - Tom was (and still is) the backbone of the company, tackling every new challenge with an attitude that said, “we can do this.”
And, he was right.
By 2004, we had before and after school care programs in 7 schools and in 2005 were able to rent our first office space. By 2009 we had programs in 24 schools but were still struggling to hire good, quality people and define our corporate structure and culture. We also felt that we weren’t making the impact that we wanted to make in the lives of the kids in our programs. We saw that kids were sitting all day long and not getting nearly enough physical activity. Many of them didn’t know how to deal with stress or difficult emotions. Many knew very little about good nutrition. We wanted to do more than just give them a safe place to be while their parents were at work, but we weren’t sure how. Our before and after school programs were basically glorified gym time, which was fine… but we wanted to give them more.
Then, in 2012, things began to fall into place. Tom met Dr. Dale Lumpa, an author, educator and thought leader on integrating fitness and wellness into the lives of students, teachers and parents. Dale became Tom’s mentor and the movement trainer for Kids’ Adventures programs. He planted the seed for us to really look at the science of the brain and how movement and physical health affects learning.
Throughout the rest of that year and into 2013, the ideas and principles behind what would become the three pillars of our program - movement, mindfulness and nutrition - began to solidify. We discovered Mindful Life, and began incorporating the Mindful Life Method into our programs. We got involved with Slow Food USA and began to add a deeper emphasis on nutrition to our programs.
In 2014, we made mindfulness, movement and nutrition personal. We incorporated them deeply into our culture. We committed to a path of personal development and taking better care of ourselves. Most importantly, we put a stake in the ground and decided that if the challenges our kids face were to be overcome, it would start with us. The result? We grew 33% that year.
2015 finds us more hopeful, passionate and energized than ever before. You see, we believe that we can build communities across the country that creates a different reality for kids.
We audaciously believe that we can change the world.
Our goals are huge and the path before us is steep. But, we’re ok with that. We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to run a sustainable business over the years. We know that hiring good people who are passionate about what we want to achieve, and creating a strong, positive culture are just as important as running great programs. We know that if we don’t practice what we teach and live our own lives with integrity and purpose, that the whole thing will fall apart at the seams. And that would just be unacceptable.
As is the case with every organization, we have built our program standing on the shoulders of giants. Here is a brief list of some of our biggest influencers and favorite resources. We invite you to check out their websites and buy their books.
- Shifting The Monkey, by Todd Whitaker
- Darren Hardy
- Malcolm Gladwell
- Spark, by John J. Ratey
- Dr. Kristen Race and her work at Mindful Life
- How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Jean Blaydes Madigan and her work at Action Based Learning
- James Fisher of The Growth Curve Institute
- Jon Kabat-Zin
- Seth Godin
- Slow Food, USA
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"I just wanted to let you know that Trisha does a outstanding job with Kids Adventures for Landmark! She is caring and my son Dylan loves her. She keeps them entertained and cares for them. She is a asset to the program. Trisha is organized and keeps the parents informed."
Andrea Cox - Landmark Academy Parent
"The parents are thrilled. The children are thrilled...Kids' Adventures worked closely with our staff to craft a program that would meet the needs of our school and children...[and] our site director is an integral part of our staff."
Beth Morganfield Lawrence Elementary School
"KA provides not only quality care but educational support and social emotional support for each of my daughters."
Garrett Rosa Principal
"I absolutely love Kids’ Adventures. Every time I am there the staff is positive and upbeat. As a working mom, it can sometimes be difficult to drop your kids off before you head to work; but my son is always happy when I drop him off and pick him up, which always just makes the whole process so much more enjoyable. There is always so many interactive things for the kids to do, and I always feel that my child is in professional and capable hands. I would recommend this program to anyone!"
Jennifer Ewing English Department Chair, Palmer Ridge High School
"Kids' Adventures is great! My daughter loves coming to after school care and is disappointed when we pick her up early."
Joy Moore Vanguard Parent
"“We are especially thankful for the summer program schedule that includes field trips, swimming, and sports days. When both parents in the home work this service is invaluable, and keeps our children engaged in their community surroundings. We appreciate the countless hours it must take to coordinate events and services like these for so many children, and absolutely support efforts to continue this process. Likewise, the after school homework program alleviates stressful hours at home working and provides our family with quality time to enjoy each other. In short, we love KA and the impact it has on our children and our family.”"
Julia, the director of the Swanson program is fantastic. Glad my child get's to stay with her for the summer."
Lindsay Arroyo Swanson Parent
"Margo and Tess (sisters) love coming to Kids’ Adventures every day because they get to play and see their friends!"
Margo and Tess Aurora Academy
"When you wake up in the morning and you have butterflies in your stomach because of the exciting day ahead you know you love where you work. You have butterflies because you come in each day and have to find the courage to be vulnerable and lean in to the uncomfortable to grow a little more each day."
"Nina loves coming to Kids’ Adventures because there is always a new activity planned for each day!"
Nina Aurora Academy
"Kids Adventures provides before and after school care that goes well beyond the scope of a traditional childcare setting. They are committed to supporting core values such as wellness, academics and parent engagement."
Sonia Sisneros SOAR Charter School Deputy Director
"Thank you to Kids Adventures for another wonderful year! Ms. Julia is the Best and I appreciate all of her great care of my son this past year again! We’ll see you next year!"
Swanson Testimonial Swanson Parent
"Thank you for all your hard work and taking such amazing care of my daughter! You guys have been really wonderful! "
Veronica Blea Vista Peak Parent
"Kids’ Adventures offers exciting and educational activities on-and-off campus. Their staff is highly qualified… they have always been very responsive to the needs of my building, staff and students."