Jill McMahon, Owner
How I got here...
The seed for Kids Movement Project was planted in childhood, when I spent most of my free time being active outdoors with neighborhood friends. The true inspiration came after having my two boys, Finn and Henry. Finn was a little bundle of energy that never stopped moving. We were always looking for creative ways to help him burn off energy, which made for a much happier household. Things got challenging when he started kindergarten and would come home from school like a caged animal. So much sitting, not enough time for play. He wasn't yet interested in organized sports, but the boy had to move. He was also a social creature who was more excited about movement opportunities when they involved other kids. As a person who had spent most of my life in dance studios and on sports fields, I was a firm believer in the connection between movement and well being. I wanted to create programs where my young, energetic child could be active with other kids in a fun, non competitive way.
So in 2014, I founded KMP, with the plan of partnering with the Portland Public Schools to offer school based movement programs. Through residencies, I taught a class called MOVE that incorporated active games, yoga and hip hop dance. I also offered a morning, outdoor movement program and after school running clubs. At the same time, I co-founded a studio in Portland's West End, adjacent to the Rosemont Nursery School where I was teaching at the time. At the studio, I taught kids yoga and family MOVE classes. My entrepreneurial adventure took many twists and turns as I constantly looked for new ways to create exciting opportunities for kids to be more active. Working with the schools was often frustrating and I didn't feel like they really understood what I was trying to do. The studio work was fun, but only reached a limited population of kids. I continued to brainstorm and try to figure out what motivated my own kids to move more.
Then I had the idea for bike club and things started to fall into place. I realized that I wanted to be outdoors more and that kids naturally felt the same way! I knew if I added bikes to the equation, kids would come, because what kid doesn't get excited about biking? My husband Tim and I had bought our house next to Baxter Woods and Evergreen Cemetary, which provide endless trails for all levels of bikers. I had always imagined programs happening there. My son Henry gravitated towards nature based activities, so I felt like this was a way to fill the needs of both of my kids. So, Baxter Bike Club took off and I quickly recognized the magic of combining active movement with my other true love, the outdoors. Next was Baxter Skate Club, which brought families to various locations in Portland for pond hockey - another home run.
This road has been exhilarating and frustrating at times. Most recently, I took some time off from KMP to work a regular teaching job and pull in a regular paycheck, because I just needed some space from the all consuming world of self employment. After some time to rest (not really, I'm in public school), I realized that I just can't stay away from this mission to get kids to be more active outdoors. My new, exciting plan is to focus on KMP summer camps and to see where that will lead. I am so energized by the conception of this new KMP creation! I am sure it will take me on all kinds of new adventures, hopefully with your kids...being active somewhere in the outdoors.