Israel Tennis Centers (ITC) and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education announced formal plans for teams of children from Israel and Philadelphia to participate in a cross-cultural exchange program in July and August.
The initiative, part of the ITC’s “Children to Children Tennis Diplomacy Exchange” program, brings together small groups of young tennis players from the Israel Tennis Centers and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education through a virtual pen pal, tennis and cultural exchange program. Through email writing, photo sharing and live video calls these young tennis players have learned about each other’s countries, cultures, tennis strategies and techniques. The program culminates with a select number of participants having the opportunity to travel to their pen pal’s country this summer.
It all started during the summer of 2014 with a visit by a group of ITC children to the Legacy facility and continued throughout the past year via an online pen pal program. It has included structured monthly themes with specialized readings and worksheets. Pen pals learn about their peer’s family history, cultural history, food, dance, customs and tennis techniques through live video feeds.
Both non-profits share the same important mission of teaching life skills to disadvantaged youth through the medium of tennis. Legacy Youth Tennis and Education has been providing tennis instruction, educational programming and positive opportunities to thousands of Philadelphia children annually since its founding in 1952. Similarly, the Israel Tennis Centers has been improving the lives of Israeli youth of all backgrounds since its first of 14 centers opened in 1976. Through its social impact programs, over 20,000 children from under-resourced areas of the country are served every year.
Visits by the Philadelphia team to Israel in July and from the Israeli team to Philadelphia in August will include home stays with families, participation in tennis camps, visiting and learning about each nation’s important historical sites. The depth of the program demonstrates both organizations’ commitment to empowering young people, especially those from under-resourced families and communities, to achieve success as individuals and as active, responsible citizens through innovative tennis, education, life skills, and leadership development programming.
Empowering Israel’s Children…Beyond Tennis and Beyond Borders
Founded in 1976, the Israel Tennis Centers (ITC) is one of the largest social service organizations for children in Israel, serving over 20,000 Israeli children every year. The ITC’s 14 centers stretch from Kiryat Shmona in the North to Beer Sheva in the South. Many of these centers are in underprivileged neighborhoods, providing disadvantaged children with a safe, structured and nurturing environment.
The ITC offers uniquely designed programs to meet the specific needs of its children:
- Social Impact: assisting youth at risk, those with special needs such as Down Syndrome and autism and children of new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia
- Coexistence: bringing together Israeli Jews, Arabs, Bedouins and Druze to play and learn
- High Performance: training Israeli children to excel as tennis players.
All of these programs are open to all children living in Israel, regardless of background, religious affiliation or economic circumstance. No child is ever turned away.