Tennis, Everyone? Initiative Serves Inner-City Youth
The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation expanded its programming to introduce at-risk inner city children to health-promoting behaviors such as good nutrition, physical conditioning and avoidance of drugs and alcohol.
The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) is a non-profit institution in Washington that works to improve the life prospects of inner-city children through tennis, education and life skills programs.
Under the grant, WTEF accomplished the following:
- Formed a partnership with the D.C. Asthma Coalition that led to workshops for 100 children and parents on asthma and how to treat it.
- Provided seminars on health issues such as nutrition, physical conditioning, sports medicine and podiatry.
- Provided healthier snacks to emphasize healthy eating habits.
- Helped school weave health lessons into a "Values Skits" annual competition. Topics included saying "no" to drugs and alcohol and eating a balanced diet.
- Brought in the United States Tennis Association to give a training and physical fitness workshop for WTEF coaches and advanced players.
- Provided a 10-week science session focusing on the human body for 60 students.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $50,000 from June 2002 through June 2003 to fund the initiative.
Structured activities that include exercise are an important component of a healthy childhood, but many children and adolescents do not have the opportunity to participate in such activities because of access, cost or availability. WTEF supports a variety of tennis, education and life skills programs that teach discipline, build self-esteem and improve academic performance. None of these programs, however, focused on health-promoting behaviors beyond the core program of tennis and the fitness levels it requires.
With the support of RWJF, WTEF was able to formalize health-related activities that reached children as well as parents in a Special Health Initiative. They designed and implemented a special health curriculum for four of their "high impact" programs (see the Appendix for a list of these programs and descriptions).
High impact programs involve students at least two or three times per week during the school year for tennis, education and life skills activities. More than 500 students participate in these high impact programs. The RWJF grant funded staff, fitness equipment and student/parent events that focused on health.
The project included the following activities and accomplishments:
- WTEF formed a partnership with the D.C. Asthma Coalition that led to workshops for 100 children and parents on asthma and how to treat it. Inner city children have a higher incidence of asthma than other children. Another partnership, with the President's Council on Physical Fitness, resulted in members of the WTEF Academy completing the President's Council Active Lifestyle Performance Test.
- Consultants visited the WTEF to give seminars on health issues such as nutrition, physical conditioning, sports medicine and podiatry. Among the guest speakers was Zena Garrison, captain of the 2004 U.S. Women's Olympic tennis team. Speakers also included several health care professionals talking about careers in health fields.
- WTEF's programs began providing healthier snacks to emphasize healthy eating habits.
- Health lessons were woven into a "Values Skits" annual competition that was being conducted at area schools. Topics included saying "no" to drugs and alcohol, eating a balanced diet and other healthy habits.
- The United States Tennis Association gave a training and physical fitness workshop for WTEF coaches and advanced players.
- One group of 60 students participated in a 10-week science session focusing on the human body.
- Tennis alone is not sufficient to improve fitness levels in children. Educating them specifically on health issues is also necessary for fitness. (Project Director)
- Parents need to be educated on health awareness along with their children. As part of the Special Health Initiative, parents also attended health workshops. (Project Director)
AFTER THE GRANT
The WTEF is continuing the Special Health Initiative begun under the RWJF grant, especially its new partnerships. The D.C. Asthma Coalition has scheduled workshops during the 20032004 year. Zena Garrison will continue to host workshops on proper nutrition and care of the body, and other guest speakers will discuss health topics. With help from McKinsey & Company consultants, WTEF has begun to implement a five-year plan to track students from 3rd through 12th grades to measure how participants have benefited from WTEF activities.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Expanding a Health Initiative to Increase Physical Activity Among At-Risk Children
Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, Inc. (Washington, DC)
Dates: July 2002 to June 2003
Wanda L. Pierce
Washington Tennis & Education Foundation "High Impact" Programs
The WTEF has four "high impact" programs that were part of the Special Health Initiative funded by RWJF:
- The Arthur Ashe Children's Program, with 550 participants, operates during the school year. It serves students in grades three through eight at 21 schools in the Washington's inner city. Children participate in after-school programming four days per week in a curriculum that combines tennis, literacy and life skills activities.
- The Tennis Academy, with 70 students, is WTEF's elite training and development program, bringing together the most committed participants from other programs. The Academy provides enrichment activities such as advanced tennis training, personal coaching, competition in tournaments, sports science and nutrition and fitness guidance.
- The Center for Excellence has 50 participants. As the college preparatory program of the WTEF, it focuses on all aspects of college planning, including applications and finances, through weekly meetings and special workshops. For the past four years, all of the center's graduating seniors have earned admission to college, winning over $1 million in scholarships.
- The Satellite Center for Excellence has about 30 students and operates much as the Center for Excellence does, but in a different school location.
Report prepared by: Nanci Healy
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Robert G. Hughes