The Israel Tennis Centers’ social impact programs have truly made a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of developmentally and physically challenged children. It has dramatically changed the life of 24 year old Elad, who was born with Down syndrome and has been practicing at the ITC – Beer Sheva for the last six years.
“Before he started playing tennis, Elad was very shy and closed off,” said his father Yossi. “He studied in a special needs school, came home and would always play on the computer or watch television by himself. Since he joined the ITC, my son has become much more sociable. He has become much more independent and even started taking the bus by himself. Every morning, he travels to the Army base by himself. From there he takes two busses to the hostel in which he lives and from home he takes another bus to the Tennis Center.”
Elad’s disability at one point disqualified him from serving in the military. Yet after completing two years of national service in a primary school in Beer Sheva, Elad volunteered in the Israeli Army, serving in an IDF equipment base for five full weekdays over a two year period. Elad was eventually able to enlist in the Army as a volunteer soldier, fulfilling a lifelong dream of being able to wear a uniform like his four siblings and his parents did before him.
In fact, in a ceremony commemorating Israel’s 65th anniversary, the Israel Defense Forces honored Elad with its Award of Excellence, the highest tribute an Israeli soldier could receive. Following the ceremony, it was announced that Elad’s parents had dedicated his award to the Israel Tennis Centers in recognition of the tremendous impact that the ITC has had on his life and thousands of other young people since the ITC opened its first facility back in 1976.
“The ITC has changed Elad’s life in every way imaginable. Those who do not know him might not understand, but as his father let me tell you what a difference it has made. The Israel Tennis Centers has truly changed his life for the better, allowing him to achieve goals he never thought he could.”