Sept. 23, 1996 Parents' letter to Kiwanis Int'l President


PO BOX 1341 Black Mountain, NC 28711
Fax 704-669-8862

Sept. 23, 1996

Mr. Gerald Christiano, President
Kiwanis International Board of Trustees
3636 Woodview Trace
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Dear President Christiano:

We want to bring to your attention serious problems with the Kiwanis Terrific Kids program. While these problems result in significant confusion and pain for many young children and their families, we recognize that Kiwanis did not intend to hurt anyone. In fact, the program was initiated here in Black Mountain, North Carolina twelve years ago with the best of intentions to motivate good citizenship and build self-esteem. Unfortunately, the program was never evaluated along the way.

We had hoped that the problems would be handled substantively before now but regret that even after a local Kiwanis-sponsored Task Force Report confirmed the problem, no remedial actions to fix the program's design have been undertaken by Kiwanis. The following background materials will assist you and your fellow Board members in understanding the problems:

  1. Our original analysis of the problems along with letters from parents about their experiences(some of the letters were added after the original letter was sent in September 1995).
  2. The Black Mountain(NC)Kiwanis Club's Terrific Kids Task Force Report. (41% of 500 responding parents from 22 schools had reservations or disapproved of the program.)
  3. Our parent response to the Task Force Report and request for actions to alleviate the problems.
  4. Other related materials we feel will be useful in your analysis.

Our discussions with your staff lead us to conclude that Kiwanis may not recognize the importance of taking rigorous, timely remedial action. Not taking immediate action would not only be a tragedy for children in 50 states and 74 countries who may be hurt by the program, it would be an irresponsible action that could produce moral and legal liabilities for Kiwanis, especially if Kiwanis knows about the problems and fails to act decisively to correct them. We are appealing to you for another look.

Over the two years we parents have worked to bring about corrections, we have not taken our concerns to the wider public because we felt that it would be more effective for Kiwanis to take the initiative to fix defects in program. We regret that hope has not been fulfilled.

We are writing to you and the Board to request that you discuss this issue at your Board meeting next week and seriously consider the requests outlined on page 4 of our response to the Task Force Report, namely suspension of the program until a professional, objective evaluation is completed. We would appreciate learning from you as soon as possible if the Terrific Kids program will be put on the agenda. We also would appreciate your assessment of what actions may be taken. I will be happy to discuss this matter with you over the phone too, 704-669-6677. Thank you.


Monroe Gilmour

cc: Mr. A.G.Terry Shaffer,Int'l Sec.Black Mountain Kiwanis Club

Concerned Parents