The National League Cities (NLC) in partnership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) selected Grand Rapids, Los Angeles and Orlando to run pilot initiatives using organized tennis instruction to promote children’s physical activity while developing social-emotional skills that will last through their lifetimes.
Under the pilot program, these cities will incorporate quality tennis instruction based on USTA’s Net Generation curriculum and coaching support into their local afterschool programs, with an eye to ensuring children and youth who are underserved and from lower-income communities have meaningful access to the sport.
With generous support from the USTA, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) will work closely with Grand Rapids, Los Angeles and Orlando to implement at least two six-week sessions of tennis instruction over the next six months into local afterschool or summer programs. All participating programs will receive free state of the art tennis equipment and provider training.
The goal is to provide tennis exposure to as many children and youth as possible to keep them healthy and learn new skills. NLC will meet regularly with the cities’ programs teams to review their afterschool program landscape to determine which programs can expand to include tennis, and the USTA will help the selected cities improve and expand their local tennis facilities infrastructure. Leveraging the resources and expertise of the USTA’s regional sections the cities will increase their capacity to serve more children and youth and establish a new partnership that will extend beyond the life of this initiative.
“This partnership with USTA allows NLC to combine our resources to provide children of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn a new sport while building the life skills that will benefit them for the future.” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “We are excited to see what our pilot cities can achieve and look forward to expanding this partnership with USTA.”
The YEF Institute has a long track record of helping cities, towns and villages build strong local coordinated citywide afterschool networks – including supporting the 50 statewide afterschool networks across the country – that offer the benefits of afterschool and summer learning programming with the goal of strengthening social and emotional skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem solving. Expanding access to quality tennis instruction builds these skills and enhances afterschool program offerings to students who otherwise may not have access.
“We could not be more excited to partner with the National League Cities as we make the game of tennis accessible to families across the country,” said Craig Morris, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “As we look to get more kids in the game through Net Generation, we are looking forward to welcoming more cities into the partnership in the coming years.”
Net Generation aims to inspire the next generation of tennis players by embracing all aspects of youth play for kids ages 5-18. The objective of Net Generation is to provide a child-friendly, safe connection to the sport, as well as a platform to celebrate individuality and self-expression. For the first time, American tennis has one unified youth brand for children to get into the sport. Net Generation makes it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. To learn more or sign up for free, please visit NetGeneration.com.
About the Authors:
Audrey M. Hutchinson, MSc., MPH is the director of education and expanded learning at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.
Bela Shah Spooner is the program director of expanded learning at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.