As part of the club's ongoing efforts to Inspire Change in Chiefs Kingdom, the Kansas City Chiefs, along with its players and community partners, have launched a new educational program called "Kingdom United"– a youth-focused diversity and inclusion initiative designed to promote racial equality. This commitment builds upon the club's current multi-year relationship and education efforts involving City Year Kansas City and Kansas City Public Schools.
The Kingdom United program aims to promote unity among students throughout Chiefs Kingdom and beyond by providing strategic educational books and multi-media resources to teach the next generation about race, diversity, inclusion and acceptance across the K-12 education lifecycle. The first phase of the program, made possible with the support of Turn the Page KC, will debut in five elementary schools, including four in the Kansas City area, tomorrow.
"One thing that we know about football is that it brings the community together. On game day, everyone is cheering for their favorite team, and it doesn't matter where you are from or the color of your skin," Chiefs Team Clinician Shaun Tyrance, Ph.D., said. "We believe that racism and intolerance are learned behaviors, as no one is born disliking someone else because of their race or culture. Kingdom United operates on the assumption that if you can teach negativity, then you also can teach love and acceptance. We felt that it was important to kick this program off at the elementary school level because young people at that age begin to formulate their ideas on and ascribe meaning to the differences they see in people. We hope to eventually reach tens of thousands of students annually in communities throughout Chiefs Kingdom through this very important initiative."
The initial launch in five pilot elementary schools includes:
- Whittier Elementary in Kansas City, Missouri, which is a City Year Kansas City school
- University Academy in Kansas City, Missouri
- Wolf Springs Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas
- Hillcrest Elementary in Lawrence, Kansas
- Spring Hill Elementary in Pflugerville, Texas, which has been adopted by Chiefs DE Alex Okafor
The schools participating in the Kingdom United program must dedicate at least 30 minutes per month to teaching their students about race, diversity, inclusion and acceptance. Each elementary school will receive complimentary, grade-level appropriate, diversity-themed books for each student, and the teachers will be provided with discussion questions and activities that can be utilized to reinforce the messages and themes in the books. Every grade level will have six unique books that will be taught during the school year, providing students who attend a participating elementary school for their entire K-6 education 42 books specifically selected to help them appreciate the uniqueness of all people.
On the first Friday of each month, participating schools will hold a "book of the month" kickoff event to introduce each grade level to their new book. These monthly sessions will include virtual readings from special guests, including Chiefs players, coaches, former players, staff members, Cheerleaders, Red Coaters and other volunteers.
"When we first started this season, we wanted to dedicate time and energy into social justice initiatives and ending systemic racism. The Kingdom United education program goes to the root of the issue and begins to teach kids from a young age about equality and diversity. Spring Hill Elementary is where I went to school, and I wouldn't be where I'm at without the education I received there. That's why it was a no brainer for me to adopt them and bring the Kingdom United program to every single kid in that school," Chiefs DE Alex Okafor said. "My hope for these kids is not only for them to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion but to also be the pioneers to a generation that actively stands up for prejudices and injustices that affect the people that don't look like them."
The Kansas City Chiefs have a longstanding tradition of supporting the academic attainment and empowerment of students across Kansas City. This year, through the Kingdom United program, the Chiefs and the Hunt Family Foundation will continue to deepen this impact on the lives of students in schools challenged by persistent inequities in the education system. Through key community partnerships and programs, students will receive academic support in the classroom and tools to learn about race, inclusion and acceptance to help them reach their full potential.
For more information on the Kingdom United program, including a form for interested schools to inquire about participating in the program, please visit www.chiefs.com/inspirechange/kingdomunited/. Additional information about all of the club's Inspire Change efforts is available at www.chiefs.com/inspirechange/ and information about the NFL's Inspire Change initiatives is available at https://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/economic-social-impact/inspire-change/.