This is Kidz XL
Kidz XL is more than an afterschool and summer camp program. It is a catalyst for children to blossom into great men and women. It is a anchor of support for families. It is a transforming influence in the Westchester/Olympia Heights communities of Miami. Yes, we promote academic excellence and provide homework help. Yes, we are committed to literacy development, physical fitness and character-building activities. Yes, we are fun, innovative and incredibly positive. But, it’s how we do it that makes all the difference. Kidz XL is a program of people who go beyond the classroom and curriculum to ourselves available to help families in every aspect of life. From the directors to the volunteer youth, everyone involved with Kidz XL is a loving, caring and committed mentor dedicated to the faith, future and character of each student enrolled.
How Kidz XL Began
Inspired by a sense of calling and desire to serve the under-served and under-resourced Westchester/Olympia Heights communities, Rollo Casiple, founder of Kidz XL and Pastor of True Vine Christian Church/La Vine del Senor, pursued an opportunity for a small $25,000 grant to fund six weeks of summer day camps for school-age children. Just two weeks before these camps were to begin and with no children signed up, La Vina was awarded this grant. A handful of members from La Vina spent the next two weeks going door-to-door handing out flyers about Kidz XL in the communities surrounding Olympia Heights Methodist Church at 3801 SW 97th Ave. which is still the present location of Kidz XL. Just about 30 children signed up and on June 20, 2005 Kidz XL was born.
Our early camps focused primarily on helping children improve their literacy and physical fitness. Each week highlighted an hour in the morning of learning skills of a sport and then an hour in the afternoon of playing that sport. In between, the children spent an hour reading out loud, being inspired to learn a life-skill in a "Power Hour" talk and a free lunch provided by MIami-Dade County. We spent most of those early years reading through William J. Bennett's "Book of Virtues." Our first week was a basketball camp that was led by a group of volunteer youth from Kearney, Nebraska. It was that group plus a groups from Kenosha, Wisconsin and New York City that were a tremendous help in launching that first summer of Kidz XL. Later that summer, it was a group from the FIU football team community that served as the foundation for Kidz XL for years to come. To this day, Kidz XL has become a program that not only serves the need of children but also plays a vital role in helping develop, train and encourage the young men and women that serve them.
In August 2006, starting with only 3 students, we added after-school tutoring to our program subcontracted by another parent agency funded by "The Children's Trust" of Miami-Dade County. In 2007, La Vina was awarded its own first contract with "The Children's Trust" which still currently funds Kidz XL. Today, "The Children's Trust" describes Kidz XL on their website as being an "innovative after-school program [that] promotes academic excellence and provides homework help, literacy development, physical fitness and character-building activities [with] social skills development and sports/physical fitness activities also offered." Currently, we are providing after-school assistance for around 100 students a day, 36 weeks out of the year and summer camps for up to 150 students a day for 8 to 9 weeks out of the summer with a paid staff of 12 directors and coaches and countless volunteer youth and adults that serve the needs of children through Kidz XL every day. To this day, Kidz XL still remains as a life-changing presence for the Westchester/Olympia Heights communities of Miam in that same 2nd floor rental area of Olympia Heights Methodist Church and Rollo has never taken his salary from Kidz XL