"A tennis center in my mind is really a means of socializing the youth who use it, to help build character, self confidence, enhance their self image." Arthur Ashe We use tennis, a sport for life, as a vehicle for change for at-risk youth from low income families at PAST&E in Portland, OR. Making tennis accessible to low income children has served as a catalyst to build a team environment involving parents, teachers, coaches and volunteers who are dedicated to the development of each child.
An at-risk child is in danger of not getting the best education possible; their families may not have had positive experiences at school, and they are more vulnerable to the impact of peer pressure in their daily life. In Portland Oregon the public school graduation rate is only 62% with low-income students at just 56%. And in the St. Johns community where PAST&E is located 85% of students receive free or reduced lunch at school and gang activity is on the rise.
Partnering with local schools and after-school coordinators, PAST&E identifies at-risk, low-income youth for our free programs. In a structured environment children receive tutoring, learn academic strategies and life skills to foster self-sufficiency. They participate in fitness and tennis, and earn advanced tennis instruction by demonstrating strong academics and life skills practices. Once in high school, youth give back in our mentorship program, staying involved through college
Our long-term impact can be described in 3 ways: 1. Participants practice the fundamental skills for athletic and academic success in elementary and middle school, then in high school they become leaders and mentors in our PAST&E program. 2. Through our parent tennis lessons and low-cost junior tournaments, tennis is accessible and able to unite families in the long term. 3. By managing our own tennis facility PAST&E provides a second home and employment opportunities to our families.
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