A benefit run to help nonprofit groups serving challenged children start a camp in the Santa Clarita Valley will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, November 20 at Mann Biomedical Park. Registration opens at 8 a.m. for the morning full of fun.
The first-eve Turkey Trot “Trotting for Awareness” 4 kilometer run will include live entertainment, carnival games and family-oriented fun benefiting Project Kindle, formerly known as Camp Kindle, which has been providing cost free services to children, adolescents, and families since 1999.
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Project Kindle has embarked on a campaign to construct a world-class, fully accessible green camp that will be made available to nonprofit organizations serving special needs campers. A preliminary site search found that the Santa Clarita Valley would be the ideal location for such a camp and organizers are seeking a 40-acre parcel.
Registration for the fun run is available online here. The cost before Nov. 15 is $10 per person or $35 per family of four or more members. After Monday and up to day of the event registration is $15 per person or $40 per family. Registration includes a T-shirt (for the first 200 participants) and park entrance.
Project Kindle, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, which primarily serves those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS, began as a weeklong summer camp known as Camp Kindle. Over the last few years, the organization has expanded its services to offer multiple camping sessions and year round support, a peer led speakers bureau, a continued education scholarship fund, and HIV/AIDS education and outreach.
Today Project Kindle touches the lives of over 15,000 children, young adults and families each year. These services currently reach young people all across the country and internationally as well.
Project Kindle, formerly known as Camp Kindle, was established in August of 1998. Santa Clarita resident Eva Payne, the Founder and Executive Director, saw a need and decided to fill it. There were very few programs being offered for youth infected or affected by HIV or AIDS, especially in the Midwest. The organization began by serving children and adolescents through a cost free, one-week summer camping session held in Nebraska for children in the Central U.S. Camp Kindle continues to offer this therapeutic, recreational and educational session annually. In 2005, Camp Kindle expanded to another location in Southern California serving youth who live in the Western U.S. Each week long session serves up to 100 young people every summer.
In 2004, the organization began its peer-to-peer speakers’ bureau known as SPEAK OUT. This program was developed out of the desires of the Camp Kindle’s participants to share their stories with the general public, especially other young people in hopes to reduce stigma and raise awareness. Today SPEAK OUT reaches thousands of students both in the United States and Internationally.
The Students Affected by AIDS Scholarship Fund was created to support young people impacted by HIV or AIDS who wanted to attend post high school education. The scholarship helps to cover books and tuition.
The “I know” initiative completed its first phase in 2008 with the completion of the ‘i know’ book and DVD. The book is a compellation of Camp Kindle participants’ stories, photos, and drawings. The DVD focuses on one camper’s story as he tells it during a week of camp. This free resource is made available to health educators and students around the world.
Today the organization now provides two week-long summer camping programs, semi-annual mini camping sessions, year round support, holiday and birthday recognition, scholarships, HIV/AIDS awareness / education, and mentorship. The AIDS epidemic has affected the lives of more than one million people within the United States. There are over 40,000 new infections every year, half of which occur in people 25 years old and younger (CDC, 2007). Also, according to current statistics, two young people are infected with HIV/AIDS every hour.
Eva Payne founded the organization because of the many needs associated with HIV/AIDS infection. She now oversees all programming for the organization and serves as the Executive Director. She works closely with employees, a committed volunteer staff, Board of Directors, and a Parent Advisory Board to provide programs that meet the ever-growing needs of those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. All of the programs that Project Kindle offers are cost free to all of the participants.