Earlier this week Kevin Durant, in partnership with KIND, brought to life the STRONG & KIND Movement by surprising a group of foster kids from the Los Angeles Youth Network. He played pick-up ball with the kids and led a conversation about strength and kindness.
The project is personally relevant for Kevin as he credits his own experiences at summer camp with paving the way for his future. Kevin was able answers a few question on his work with KIND and how he surprised a bunch of basketball fans.
Why did you, KIND and your foundation launch “A STRONG & KIND Summer with KD”?
Kevin Durant: KIND and I recently introduced the STRONG & KIND Movement. We are looking to show people that it’s possible to be both strong and kind. A lot of people think that you have to be one or the other, but the truth is you have to be strong to choose kindness.
As part of our partnership, KIND has made a $1 million donation to my foundation – the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation – to help teach at-risk youth what it means to be STRONG & KIND. We saw summer camps as a great place to start bringing this message to life for these kids.
Is this your first-time supporting summer youth programs? Why is it important to you to support them?
KD: I have been hosting the Kevin Durant Basketball ProCamp for a few years, but this is the first time I’ve focused on summer camps that offer more than athletic programming. KIND and my foundation helped establish this focus after we realized that summer brings on a lot of challenges for at-risk youth. School’s out and these kids need a safe place to have fun and learn at the same time.
It’s a lot easier to get into trouble when you don’t have somewhere to go. Summer camps provide that place and at the same time teach kids how to be their best selves. Camps push you out of your comfort zone and get you thinking in new ways. And they also provide a place to build friendships with others who can build you up and keep you in check when no one else is watching.
Did you go to camp as a kid? If so, how did that impact you? Do you have a certain camp memory that sticks out?
KD: Growing up, I went to different camps. It kept me off the streets and gave me a place to learn and grow. My mom always made sure I had a safe place to go. Hopefully this effort helps do the same for kids across the country.
How will “A STRONG & KIND Summer with KD” impact kids? What are you hoping they’ll learn?
KD: This effort started a few months ago, when KIND and I came together to help spread the message that it’s strong to be kind. We think this message affects everybody, but decided to focus on reaching at-risk youth this summer. A lot of these kids have been put in bad situations, and so it’s easy for them to get caught up in the negativity and be pulled onto the wrong path. We want to teach them that despite what they might see in their lives, being strong doesn’t mean being hard or being a bully. It means respecting others and standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.
We want them to know that by being kind, they will be their strongest selves. We also hope that the STRONG & KIND programming helps these kids connect with one another. Hopefully they’ll learn how to be a better teammate and keep each other in check when they step off the right path. My friends, coaches and mentors were able to do that for me when I was growing up, and they still do that for me today.
If you hosted your own camp, how would you bring to life the STRONG & KIND pledge elements?
KD: I’d probably start by having the kids talk about who they think is strong and kind – it could be someone they’re close to or a professional athlete or another public figure they look up to. I’ve personally had a lot of people show me versus tell me what it means to be strong and kind. My mom is one – I saw her sacrifice for me every single day growing up. My former coach Chucky is another.