Tennis in America
The children of Youngstown, OH just wrapped up a five week program based on the ITC model where they learned how to play to tennis, and more importantly developed long-lasting life skills.
It all started when ITC board member Sam Shapiro said it was a shame that the at-risk children in America couldn’t benefit from the fantastic opportunity that the ITC provides the children of Israel. A lightbulb went off, and Amy Hendricks, ITC Board Member and Global Resource Development Chair, ran with it.
The Youngstown program is based on the ITC model of using tennis as a vehicle with which to teach the basic values of success and happiness in life to at-risk children, and brought it to America, “ said Amy. Some of the life values tennis teaches are teamwork and perseverance, hard work, patience, and integrity. We’ve carried that from the tennis court into real life.”
Every day for five weeks this summer the children of Youngstown Community School came to the Jewish Community Center for an afternoon filled with tennis, crafts, and swim lessons all paid for by a grant from the United States Tennis Association that Amy applied for with the help of United Way. The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation supplied much of the manpower, knowledge and funding for this program along with their facility.
The program won a grant and was able to recruit 40 volunteers along with two tennis coaches and one fitness motivation coach. Amy says that “when you embark on a project like this, everyone wants to help. It’s tough to say no to something like this.”
By the end of the five weeks, every volunteer was moved by the sight of happy, healthy children blooming with self-confidence and who could not wait to get back on the court. In a city, with a 98% poverty rate and a failing public school system, it can be a rare sight to see children believing in themselves, and that’s why programs like this are desperately needed.
The program has seen so much success that even more kids are coming to the JCC with the hopes of learning how to play tennis. Amy now wants to make the program year-long and replicate the ITC model, with after school tutoring sessions, Girl Empowerment programs and of course, food. She wants to take these steps slow though to ensure that they get it right for the children.
For more information about this program or to initiate something similar in your community, please reach out to Amy Hendricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.