Giving Kids an Advantage – Stories of Success

We do it for the kids, for their communities, and for their future. Here are some of our successes.

Wyatt – Nashua Youth –
has transformed into a focused yogi, tennis player, group leader

The first thing you notice about Wyatt is everything. He has flaming red hair and a personality to match; this is the child whose energy is contagious. Reluctant to try yoga for the first time, he nonetheless sat in the front and center of the room. After one session with Brittany, he was already more peaceful and focused. During the second yoga session, he was elevated to the front of the room and got to demonstrate some poses with Brittany – then, when it came time to play tennis, he suddenly was able to volley the ball, going on a three-hit streak to the amazed cheers of all! “It’s all the yoga,” he said, grinning. We couldn’t agree more, Wyatt! Namaste!

 

Court Meditation – at Longfellow New Hampshire Swim & Tennis Club –
a chance to “put down the weight.”

“Find three things you can hear – focus just on what you can hear. Now, three things you can smell . . .” she said, and to everyone’s utter amazement each of the children did exactly that, calmly and with eyes closed, under the bright lights at Longfellow New Hampshire Tennis & Swim Club.

Afterward, the kids were asked to describe their experience. One said, “I feel so calm and peaceful right now. Like, even if someone were to – I don’t know – yell at me or something, it wouldn’t even be able to take away my calmness.”

Later, in the yoga room, that same child shared more about their feelings. “You keep moving your shoulders around,” Brittany pointed out, “it’s almost like you’ve let go of some tension you were holding.”

The child replied, “Yeah! It feels like I put down a big weight. I’ve been getting in trouble a lot lately, but I feel a lot better now.”

Ozeira – High Performance Player + Inspirational Volunteer

 

Freshly back from competing in the Junior Orange Bowl in Florida, Oziera returned to Nashua to volunteer with the weekly Tennis PLUS (yoga + meditation) program.

Despite her rigorous tennis and academic schedule, in which she excels, Oziera remains dedicated to mentoring younger players. She works alongside Coach Scott to wrangle more than a dozen Nashua middle schoolers every Friday afternoon on the courts.

Here, she pauses for a photo with Camrin, a program youth, between yoga and tennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maeve Torrey – High School Volunteer Mentor –
received a glowing recommendation from Coach Kent. These are some of his words:

Maeve Torrey has volunteered for the past two years as a coach with the nationally recognized Aceing Autism tennis program. Aceing Autism is sponsored by Advantage Kids New Hampshire, a non-profit organization dedicated to youth development through tennis. Maeve has demonstrated exceptional skills assisting children with autism, guiding them to combine physical, social and interpersonal skills in each session.

Maeve quickly established a strong level of trust and engagement with our players and was always anticipating how she could provide the best support in every session. Many of the activities involved non-tennis skills such as balance, coordination and motor control. Maeve would model, assist and support throughout the session to ensure that each player got the most out of each session.

Maeve attended every session, held on Sunday afternoons, making her participation a priority in her busy world.

We are pleased to offer this recommendation as we have found Maeve to have the commitment, sensitivity and interpersonal skills necessary for finding success in just about any field. Her compassion and engagement with these players was exceptional, and we certainly hope she will be able to continue to work with this and other Advantage Kids youth development programs.

Nashua Boys & Girls Club + Longfellow Athletic Club = A Brand New Program
that the cold air couldn’t stop. Here’s the story of these ultra-dedicated kids:

Advantage Kids has begun its new and exciting partnership with the Longfellow Tennis and Swim Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua. 

Scott McDougald, a PTR certified tennis instructor,  provided over 40 kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua with free tennis lessons this fall.  The cold air couldn’t even hold these kids back from rallying to participate using their outdoor space. Scott’s love of tennis is evident on the court and felt by all.  The word spread quickly through the Boys and Girls Club and kids continually arrived each week with a new friend wanting to join. Check out the kids in their new T-shirts offered by Advantage Kids, Longfellow and the Boys and Girls Club.

As the fall program celebrated its graduation, 14 lucky and deserving kids from the Boys and Girls Club were selected to experience tennis on real courts at the Longfellow Tennis and Swim Club.  We are sure the kids will be in awe under the lights and expanse of their beautiful indoor courts. Transportation will be provided between the clubs by the Boys and Girls Club.  

The kids will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive at Longfellow as Advantage Kids excitedly announces our new pilot program, “Tennis PLUS” – combining tennis with yoga and meditation. Tennis Plus begins December 6th. Look for hearing about the success of our new pilot program in the January newsletter!

ACEing Autism returns to Laconia Boys & Girls Club, Everyone Wins

Advantage Kids is proud to have offered the 3rd annual ACEing Autism program in partnership with the national Los Angeles based organization, a nonprofit whose mission is to connect children with autism through unique tennis programs. 

“ACEing Autism opens up the world to kids on the spectrum,” says Lakes Region Community Services Autism Coordinator Patricia Hunt.  AK has been fortunate to have children returning year after year. Kolby Dubiesz has enjoyed the tennis program so much he is considering trying out for his highschool team this Spring!

A special visit from Miles Vidreiro, the behavior specialist and quality control manager with Aceing Autism, focused on encouraging independence as much as possible.  He says “A big part of this is effective delivery (and fading) of prompting. You will need to prompt throughout the clinic, especially during the technical tennis parts. With that said, always be mindful to fade off as soon as possible.”  The prompt and fade approach is a valuable tool for all coaches.

While independence is a priority, having the participants interacting with each other as much as possible was the biggest takeaway according to Program Directors Kent and Carolyn Hemingway. We were introduced to several ways to do this, including: pairing them when possible (Group Warm-up, Hand-Eye, Racquet Skills), having them tag each other in during shuffling drills, and “high five a new friend” after different activities.  Games such as pancake, where participants work together to “pancake” tennis balls between racquets while shuffling down the courts was a big hit.

AK is honored to be part of such a heartfelt program!

 

Dean Mason – Donovan Award Winner –
made a speech at the TennisGolf Fundraiser. These are his words:

Hi, I’m Dean Mason. This program has meant so much to me. I learned the skills to now be able to try out for the high school tennis team. I have learned a lot and I’m able to keep the ball going back and forth with my brother Mason. We have both been in this program for three years and it’s been a lot of fun. Without these lessons, I would not have these lifetime skills. I would not have a future in tennis or this experience. Without this program, like many others, my family would not be able to afford tennis lessons. I thank my coaches very much for making the three years a fun learning experience. The coaches have made these lessons more meaningful – they taught me the skills and how to keep score. They don’t teach like it’s a job, they teach with lots of love, respect, kindness, energy, patience, adventure, affection, consideration, braveness, and must have much adaptability.

I could not find enough words to describe what this program and these coaches have given me.