Halton Tennis Club has provided opportunities to play tennis to disabled children and adults since 2011. Their inclusive tennis programme operates under the name “Everyball Enabled Tennis” and was started with the aim of inspiring people with disabilities to play tennis, regardless of their background or their ability.
A wide variety of disabled people access their services. Some have physical impairments, such as wheelchair users or those who are visually impaired. Others have learning difficulties, such as our Down’s Syndrome or emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, such as autism. All of them, however, have a great deal of difficulty accessing safe, welcoming sporting environments with understanding, well trained staff.
This grant enabled Halton to offer a service that enriches their lives in a variety of ways. There are obvious physical benefits, as well as mental stimulation and the opportunity to socialise in a safe environment. The result is often an increase in confidence which carries over into other areas of participants’ lives.
Halton have also reported that, as a result of their safe, inclusive environment at the club, some individuals feel confident enough to join in with mainstream sessions, which is the ultimate inclusive goal, as it also helps able-bodied people view disability more positively and breaks down barriers for everyone.
The tennis club also regularly deliver mini-festivals of tennis once every 6-8 weeks, free of charge, to approximately 13 special schools in Buckinghamshire. These tend to have up to 60 children at one time taking part in a two hour “mini-festival”.
“There is a 10 year-old girl who comes to our sessions. She’s in a wheelchair as a result of a car accident she had two years ago. Her parents have said that the tennis she plays at the club provides her with such a necessary and powerful boost of happiness and joy. We have heard similar stories from a man in a wheelchair and the mum of a 17 year old boy with Down’s Syndrome. Really, you only need to turn up at one of our sessions (any single one of them) to see the difference they make. The children’s smiles say it all!”
– Thomas Mayer (Programme Director)