Teens Teach Tennis is a community service project I started in the spring of 2005. My belief in community service comes from early experiences with my mother who teaches kindergarten. Helping her in the classroom from an early age, I quickly became aware how rewarding teaching others and sharing knowledge can be.
As an advanced junior tennis player, I helped teach tennis to young beginners at a local tennis club. This experience reinforced my enthusiasm for teaching and gave me confidence in my ability to teach others.
While I have volunteered for service club and helped the elderly, my true passions are both teaching and tennis; therefore, it seemed natural to me that I should somehow combine these activities as a volunteer in our community. My idea was to bring skilled junior tennis players together with children who are eager to learn the game of tennis but do not have resources for equipment and instruction.
A family friend suggested that I contact the city of Aiken to see if there were any recreation programs that would allow me to help teach tennis to children in the community. I met with the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism for Aiken; he liked the idea of Teens Teach Tennis and offered two tennis courts at Eustis Park in the Toole Hill neighborhood of Aiken to start the program.
With the help of several volunteers and donations provided by community groups, I was able to hold the first tennis clinic in June of 2005. My most memorable experience was on that first day of the program. Having worked very hard to prepare for this day, I did not want anything to go wrong. We had handed out fliers in the neighborhood, making sure we contacted homes with young children so that students would show up on the first day.
First to arrive were the twins, Anastasia and Danika . Soon, one by one, more children began to arrive. When I saw their smiling faces and eagerness to start, I knew that I had done the right thing and all would turn out well.
Looking back over the last three years, all has turned out well. Teens Teach Tennis has not only provided free tennis lessons to many, but also provided structure, guidance, and healthy alternatives for deserving children. Teens Teach Tennis helped to revive a neighborhood park and tennis courts. Teens Teach Tennis brought together members of the community to improve their neighborhood and provide new opportunity for their children.
The most valuable lesson I can pass on to other young people is to find something they like to do or a skill that they have developed and share their knowledge. If you are a math whiz, find a school that needs a tutor. If you have a green thumb, help a neighborhood start a garden. If you are an artist, find a community center and start an art class. All it takes is a little passion for your activity and your willingness to share your knowledge. Once you take the first step, others will follow. Be a leader and contribute your knowledge and energy to helping those less fortunate. The rewards are many and the opportunities are endless.