I've seen a lot of positive stories about Kids Unlimited, which is now branching out and has opened a charter school. It appears to be an organization that's unique to Medford — not like part of a national Boys & Girls Clubs. How and when did it get started?
— Marjorie G., Medford
Well, Marjorie, funny you should mention the Boys & Girls Clubs because, in a way, Kids Unlimited has some roots extending back into that organization.
Kids Unlimited made its appearance locally in 1998, after founder Tom Cole left his Boys & Girls Clubs job as operations director. A May 10 story that year in the Mail Tribune said Cole planned to open "VIBES, an under-21 dance club in Medford, and an associated nonprofit agency, Kids Unlimited."
By August 1998, the paper reported, "A new after-school program, sponsored by a new nonprofit group called Kids Unlimited, plans to offer a variety of activities for elementary school children, including sports, homework assistance, hobby clubs and community projects."
That after-school program was through the Central Point School District. The story said Cole also was in discussions with the Medford School District to offer a similar program at Oak Grove Elementary School.
Within the year, there were stories about summer camps, multicultural camps, basketball programs and more being offered by Kids Unlimited.
Roll forward 15 years and the latest program connected with Kids Unlimited is a new charter school, run by a staff of educators under the umbrella of K.U., which is now housed in a former bowling alley at 821 N. Riverside Ave., in Medford.
The lanes are long gone, replaced by classrooms, computer labs, a kitchen, basketball courts and more. The program — which is indeed unique to Medford — has impacted thousands of disadvantaged kids with dozens, maybe hundreds, of programs.
And Vibes, once the name of a planned dance club, is the name of the area's newest charter school, which opened up in August with classrooms filled with first- through third-graders.
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