PORTLAND, Ore. -- At the Saint Johns Racquet Center they are taking a different approach to tennis lessons.
Since 2009, the Portland Tennis and Education program has used this facility, and the game of tennis, to teach neighborhood students the importance of education, family and community. In fact, if you ask Executive Director Danice Brown, tennis has very little to do with the program. Their goal isn't to develop elite tennis players, but rather to expose kids to a game which teaches courtesy, respect and hard work.
The belief is that by teaching those values at a young age, the students will use them to strengthen families and build their communities.
As the word tennis is in the title of the program, you might assume that this after school program starts with a tennis lesson. It doesn't.
After getting "the wiggles" out, and a snack in, each students works with their coach on their homework. By starting with homework they are reinforcing the idea of taking care of responsibilities before enjoying something fun. This approach has led to a near 100 percent high school graduation rate for the students in the program; one that far exceeds the state average.
After homework is complete the tennis begins. For some it turns into a sport they play competitively through the Portland Tennis and Education club or on their high school team. For others, it's an activity they will enjoy leisurely for the rest of their lives. But for all students in the program it is an opportunity to learn, grow, compete and most importantly, have fun.