The SPUT Outreach Program:
"Tennis In The Streets"
We brought tennis to 22 Saint Paul neighborhoods without tennis courts
SPUT identified 22 locations across Saint Paul where kids were in need of positive and active programs. Apartment complexes and low income housing developments were the primary target areas for these Outreach Programs.
Temporary tennis courts were created in the neighborhoods
How did we bring tennis to areas without tennis courts? We brought the courts, nets, racquets and tennis balls with us! By using newly developed and specially designed tennis equipment, we were able to create temporary tennis courts that could be installed in nearby parks, parking lots and any open areas available.
These temporary courts allowed our instructors to introduce tennis to children that had never been exposed to it before...and even more importantly, and more fun for the kids, was the fact that they actually got to play real games, and compete with other children in their neighborhood.
Children love to play games; much more then they like to sit in lines and wait their turns--these specially built tennis courts allowed children to actually compete, keep score, and have real competition. This competition helped children learn valuable life-skills, including, sportsmanship, teamwork, patience, concentration, focus, along with basic physical skills like agility, balance and coordination.
Bringing tennis and life-skills to low-income neighborhoods
Most of these sites attracted younger children (6 yrs old through 12 years old) to the classes -- but in almost all cases, the older siblings would come down and act as "teachers" for the younger kids in the classes.
Every day we taught valuable character-building skills, with an emphasis on proper eating habits and nutrition. Recent studies have confirmed that low-income areas have a disproportionate percentage of people that are obese, and it is critical to teach proper nutrition at a young age..
No lecturing--learning through stories
Instead of lecturing to the children, the SPUT instructors told stories to the kids about other kids who had learned the value of setting goals, or the value of eating well or how anything can be accomplished through a positive attitude and hard work.
Each day the kids in the classes would take "fun-homework" back to their homes to discuss with their parents. For example, one night their homework might be to choose fruit or vegetables instead of reaching for a "Coke". And then they would proudly report back to their instructor/mentor how good it felt!
Another homework assignment would be too introduce yourself and shake hands with someone new before your next class. Children would proudly report back to their instructors who they met...and they often would boast that they actually met 3 or 4 people ... not just one!
Tennis racquets, balls and other equipment would often be left behind
Often times the participants would have so much fun, that we would leave several racquets, balls and other tennis equipment with the children so they could continue to play and enjoy the game of tennis.
All Costs of the program were covered by SPUT!
Because this outreach program was brought to low-income areas of Saint Paul, SPUT made the decision to cover all of the equipment costs and instructor costs as part of our non-profit organization. We are currently in the process of increasing those numbers, and we are hoping to reach over 2,000 kids in Saint Paul ... and yes, we could use your help!