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Community Outreach Soars to New Heights

By Linda Shepherd, ALTA Foundation President

ALTA is so much more than league play, shiny plates, bag tags, and lasting friendships. The joy of ALTA can be spread easily; just look at the happy faces, and you can see the impact being made by the charitable arm of ALTA, the ALTA Foundation. The organization has been reaching out to help people for more than 30 years. Its mission is to improve our community, while promoting health, character, sportsmanship, and responsible citizenship by establishing programs and offering grants to support all athletes.

Please be sure to read through all of the exciting happenings, including new programs that continue to pop up as a result of the hard work of our volunteers and the ALTA Foundation.

Keeping Pace
There are so many exciting events sponsored by the ALTA Foundation. This past summer, the foundation kept busy, working with the many programs that are truly making a difference across Atlanta. One of the new ventures we embarked on this year includes the Keeping Pace program. This enriching summer program at Pace Academy has been around for 14 years. It’s a 5-1/2-week camp where Pace Scholars receive instruction and actively participate in programs such as creative writing, experimenting with science, math tutoring, farm-to-table cooking, along with other fun activities like swimming and health and fitness. Martha Downer-Assaf says the children from their partner neighborhoods entering grades 6-9 and who qualify for free or reduced lunch can apply to be a Pace Scholar.

Several returning Pace Scholars entering grades 10-12 also can apply for one of several leadership positions. This past year, 60 kids participated and had quite the summer. Downer-Assaf is quite proud of how Keeping Pace has impacted these kids. “We keep them really busy while having fun. These kids are gaining valuable life lessons which are learned outside the classroom,” she says. The kids also enjoyed a special day this summer at the BB&T Atlanta Open Presented by First Data. They even sent in thank you cards to the ALTA Foundation as part of their appreciation of support for Keeping Pace.

START
The ALTA Foundation also is pleased to announce a new pilot program that will reach out to high schools that need financial support to run their tennis programs, beginning next year. START (Support for Teaching Atlanta Recreational Tennis) will help provide a certified coach and the necessary equipment to eligible high schools so that their student-athletes can compete in tennis matches. One of the schools selected is Osborne High School, the oldest high school in Cobb County. Dario Williams, a seasoned tennis coach for 25 years, is looking forward to spearheading the programs for the students. START will also be implemented at Pebblebrook High School in Cobb County. Jackie Jenkins, who also works with Keeping Pace, will be spearheading the START program at Pebblebrook.

“I am very excited to once again be a part of another great program, sponsored by the ALTA Foundation. My goal is to introduce the basic fundamentals of tennis and implement skills in a way that kids will learn and have fun,” says Jenkins. Through his experience with Keeping Pace, Jenkins says he realized the fun aspect keeps the students’ minds engaged; having an awesome team of coaches who are willing to be patient in their development goes a long way. “This will be a great starting point for the Pebblebrook program and a great opportunity to build an environment for learning through the sport of tennis,” Jenkins added.

Atlanta Youth Tennis and Education Foundation
We’re extremely proud of the partnership with AYTEF (Atlanta Youth Tennis and Education Foundation). AYTEF combined with Washington Park Tennis to create a fun-filled summer of activities for the 100th year of tennis at the park. Serve and Connect is just one of many great happenings taking place at the park. The program puts kids and members of the Atlanta Police Department together by interacting, playing tennis, and learning valuable life lessons.

For nine weeks this past summer, kids received training in fitness, nutrition, stroke production, and gameplay strategy. AYTEF Executive Director Andrew Shahan says that in addition to hours of tennis instruction, the kids received academic enrichment in reading and math, took advantage of the Washington Park pool and took numerous field trips to the library and even the BB&T Atlanta Open Presented by First Data.

Continuing right where summer left off, Shahan says the after-school program is in full swing. “The kids are getting tennis instruction each day and working hard in our ‘Tennis Lab.’ On court, we are continuing to improve our forehands, backhands, and serves. While in the ‘Lab,’ our students are working on increasing their math knowledge and reading,” says Shahan. “We are having a lot of fun and learning a lot!”

Foundation Grants Help Organizations Across Atlanta

  • Atlanta Youth Tennis & Education Foundation — Keeping Pace and Atlanta Community Tennis Foundation
  • Dunwoody Country Club — Special Olympics Day
  • Georgia Tennis Foundation — Joe Dorns First Serve Program
  • Henry First Wheelchair Tournament — Geranium Festival Tennis Tournament
  • Sandy Springs Tennis Association — Kids Luv tennis/Rising Stars
  • Special Olympics Georgia — Summer games
  • Special Populations Tennis and Middle School — Fall Classic Adaptive Tennis Tournament
  • START— ALTA Title One Program

The ALTA Foundation has been there to help inner-city youth, physically and mentally challenged kids, and will continue to grow by reaching out to develop successful and meaningful tennis programs that are making a difference. In order to truly make that difference, we need your help. Please consider making a donation to help continue to support the programs that are changing the tennis landscape throughout our Atlanta community.

Send your donations to:
The ALTA Foundation
300 Colonial Center Parkway
Suite 140
Roswell, GA 30076