Physical activity has been shown to enhance the quality of life for all children and adults. It is widely believed that those with disabilities may derive an even greater benefit than the non-disabled.
There is a significant need to empower these children and adults so that they do not become disconnected and isolated. These populations have one thing in common: they all require a structured framework in a supportive and positive setting that recognizes and caters to their specific needs and abilities.
Through its Special Needs programs in each of its 14 centers located throughout Israel, the ITC provides a nurturing environment where children and adults with disabilities can feel comfortable and valued for who they are and what they can do, rather than singled-out for what they cannot do.
In addition to the development of cognitive and motor skills, success is measured by the smiles that convey enhanced self-esteem and confidence, a sense of belonging and successful contribution to a group, and the development of strong relationships that people, regardless of their background, physical or mental abilities, so desperately need.
Israel Tennis Centers Trained Teen Wins World Championships
17-year-old Rotem Ashkenazi, who trains at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon, was crowned world champion at the inaugural 2015 World Deaf Tennis Championships in Nottingham, England, this past weekend. Organized by the Tennis Foundation, the leading tennis charity in Great Britain, the tournament featured deaf athletes from 20 different countries around the world.
Deaf since birth, Rotem started playing tennis when she was 6 years old. At the age of 12, she joined the ITC – Ramat Hasharon and today she is the only female deaf competitive tennis player in Israel. For the past few years she has played national tournaments as a member of the ITC National Girls Team and is currently ranked 21st in the Israeli U-18 category. She volunteers at the ITC coaching younger children with disabilities and is a recipient of the prestigious ITC’s Cohen Mintz Tennis Scholarship.
Rotem is an extraordinary positive and determined young woman who has never let her hearing impairment slow her down in any way. As her father proudly noted, she views the ITC as “her second home… really her main home. ” He went on to thank Eyal Taoz, ITC – Ramat Hasharon Manager, for giving her the tools to excel in her daily life. Click to see his remarks: https://youtu.be/G8Tz08T1iws
The World Deaf Championships was Rotem’s first time playing against other deaf players. She not only defeated the best deaf tennis players in the world, she vanquished them, dropping only two games in the three matches in which she competed. In the finals, Rotem breezed to an 8 – 1 victory over Jana Janosikova of Slovakia. Her incredible success is testimony to the impact of ITC’s social impact programs in helping Israeli children of all backgrounds, with or without disabilities. These include those with special needs like Rotem, Youth At-Risk, Coexistence and Immigrant Assimilation.
“I was very interested to play against other deaf players, since I’ve only ever played against hearing players at the ITC,” said Rotem. “I was curious to meet so many people with hearing disabilities from around the world. Most of all, I was very excited to represent Israel.” And what a great ambassador she is! Rotem’s training at the ITC – Ramat Hasharon has given her the ability to become a champion both on and off the court.
Hearing Impaired Children
This program serves children and youth with severe hearing deficiencies and offers tennis and fitness activities according to their unique needs.
Autistic & Down Syndrome
Children with autism or Down Syndrome require special programs that are geared to their unique challenges. This program enables them to enjoy social interaction and increase their self-esteem. The program is currently offered at three Centers.
Serving children and youth with high energy and short attention spans, this program is geared towards building confidence and teaching concentration skills through physical activities that allow participants to channel their energies in a positive direction.
Special Tennis (Olympics)
This program is a joint partnership between the Israel Tennis Center and the Special Olympics, empowering children and adults with developmental disabilities through local, national and international tennis tournaments and activities. Participants of this program train weekly for five national Special Olympics tennis tournaments each year, while the most talented participate in international Special Olympics
The Unified Program pairs athletes with developmental disabilities with children from the ITC’s Competitive Program in mixed-doubles drills and tournaments, thus advocating mutual respect and friendship between two groups who do not usually interact socially.
Rehabilitation of Injured IDF Soldiers and Veterans
Utilizing the therapeutic prowess of tennis and sport, Israeli soldiers injured in the line of duty are offered a structured routine so that they can train their way back to health.
Mentally Stressed Adults
Tennis, fitness and special activities serve as therapeutic tools for adults suffering from trauma and emotional fatigue.
Wheelchair & Handicapped Tennis
This program allows physically disabled children and adults to play and compete in wheelchair tennis on regular basis. The ITC also hosts several international ITF wheelchair tournaments each year.