Program serves up opportunities to learn tennis


By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI

abartolomucci@vindy.com

The Down Syndrome Association of the Valley and Buddy Up for Down Syndrome hosted a Buddy Up Tennis event on Sept. 24 at the Boardman Tennis Center.

People of all ages who have Down Syndrome were invited to participate in the Buddy Up Tennis program throughout the year. There are two or three Saturday sessions a month that occur in January through April, and then again in September through December. This is the third year the program has occurred at the Boardman Tennis Center and children as young as five years old to people who are young adults attend.

“It starts off with a half hour of fitness, about 45 minutes of tennis and then we always finish with a game.” said Melanie Olsen, one of the instructors.

Those with Down Syndrome are Athletes and several people volunteer their time to be a Buddy. There are tennis players from high schools in the area like Canfield, Boardman, Poland and Ursuline. Members from the Youngstown State University tennis team also volunteer to work with the athletes.

Buddy Up Tennis gives people who have Down Syndrome the opportunity to learn while having fun. The program was originated in Columbus and is currently popping up more place around Ohio. This allows those with Down Syndrome to have a chance to try something they might not have been able to do otherwise.

“It is great for their exercise, it’s great for their socialization and they’re learning the basics of tennis,” said Olsen.

There will be other sessions in October, November and December that people can attend and volunteer for. The programs take place from 9:30-11 a.m. on Saturdays. More information can be found about the program at BuddyUpTennis.com.

“It’s a really beautiful thing to see them all out here and interacting. We’re more alike than we are different. A bunch of people having a good time together,” said Olsen.

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