Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.–Kiwanis defining statement, adopted October 2004.
Founded in 1915 in Detroit and with headquarters now in Indianapolis, Kiwanis International is a thriving organization of service- and community-minded individuals who support children and young adults around the world. More than 600,000 Kiwanis-family members in 96 countries make their mark by responding to the needs of their communities and pooling their resources to address worldwide issues. Through these efforts, Kiwanis International truly is “Serving the Children of the World.”
Guided by six permanent Objects, Kiwanis clubs view their role within their respective communities with a great deal of foresight. Key aspects to operating an effective club include:
- Evaluating both children’s issues and community needs on an ongoing basis
- Conducting service projects to respond to those identified needs
- Maintaining an active membership roster of professional business people who have both the desire and the ability to serve their community
Club meetings traditionally are conducted once a week and offer an atmosphere of fun, learning, and fellowship. In addition to attending the meetings, the typical Kiwanian volunteers each month to assist with club service projects.
Service projects often are linked to the Kiwanis program, “Young Children: Priority One.” This initiative places continuing focus on the needs of children in pediatric trauma, safety, child care, early development, infant health, nutrition, and parenting skills.
Service projects also can address other needs within the community, such as working to stop substance abuse, helping the elderly, promoting literacy, supporting youth sports and recreation, responding to disasters, and supporting specific persons in need.
Kiwanis also plays a special role in developing future generations of leaders. K-Kids clubs at the elementary school level, Builders Clubs in middle school and junior highs, Key Clubs in high schools, and Circle K clubs at the collegiate level all are Kiwanis organizations that teach community service and leadership skills to young people. In addition, Aktion Clubs are made up of adults with mental and physical disabilities who enthusiastically perform service to help others.
Worldwide, the entire Kiwanis family is committed to eliminating the devastating effects of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the world’s leading preventable cause of mental retardation. More than 1.5 billion people are at risk of suffering IDD because they do not receive enough iodine in their diet. But, because of Kiwanis’ efforts, many parents who have been affected by IDD are able to watch their children grow up healthy and reach their full physical and mental potential. The results of the IDD program will benefit every future generation.
A typical Kiwanis club is a snapshot of its community, with members from all walks of life and at every step of the career ladder. They are unified in their belief that children and their communities benefit from the efforts of a proficient group of caring and involved volunteers. In a typical year, Kiwanis clubs invest more than 6.2 million hours and US$100 million in communities around the world. Through these efforts, the Kiwanis organization truly leaves a lasting impression on future generations.