Why TennisWorks? Participation in sports by children and adolescents is associated with a range of documented physical, emotional, social and educational benefits that filter into adulthood; however, income is the number one indicator of early participation in sports. Youth who live in households with the lowest incomes are half as likely to participate in sports compared to youth from wealthier homes ($100,000+)*.
To reach youth not traditionally exposed to tennis, we intentionally go to where young people are - in the schools! Through strategic school partners, the TennisWorks youth development continuum begins with a focus on youth in grades 3 - 8. To reduce transportation barriers, programming is either delivered on-site in the community, or the youth are provided with free bus or van transportation to and from The Fort.
On the court, our programs provide physical activity through tennis, a chance to be exposed to a sport that may be new to them and learn new skills, an opportunity to practice life skills in action, such as perseverance, self-regulation, and dealing with winning and losing, as well as a focus on their athletic development. Off the court, there is a continued focus on life skills development, youth engagement in decision making, reinforcing academic concepts through an out-of-school curriculum that ties 21st Century Skills and National Standards to tennis, experiential learning, and connecting all youth to a supportive community.
As youth get older and their interest in tennis is sparked, the TennisWorks program grows with them to provide a range of relevant athletic, academic, leadership, and service opportunities. Scholarships are provided into additional junior tennis programs for youth who are interested in taking their tennis games to the next level. Off the court, the link between tennis and education is further fortified for Middle School youth through partnerships with Gustavus Adolphus College and Macalester College. Providing real-life experiences on college campuses, youth participate in field trips, tennis themed science projects, and overnight retreat camps. TennisWorks is also expanding to focus on maximizing our supportive community to offer career exploration events, on-the-job learning experiences, and leadership projects that benefit the Fort community.
By centering youth voices and bridging tennis with off-court experiences, we aim to inspire youth to define success and strive to achieve it.
YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD
The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a group of up to 15 young people ages 14 - 19 who are passionate about tennis, leadership, service and empowering youth voice.
The mission statement of YAB is: "We are a powerful and diverse group of young tennis players. We co-create leadership opportunities with our community, support each other academically, mentally and physically in order to help each other to learn and succeed in life."
YAB currently meets 2 - 3 times a month including hosting other youth from the Minneapolis and St. Paul area on every first Friday of the month for free tennis, food and fellowship.
Open to students from middle school through high school, Fort First Fridays connects students from around the Twin Cities to tennis and to each other. Students engage in ice-breakers, on-the-court drills and games, and finish the evening off with pizza and conversation. As the name implies, Fort First Fridays occur at The Fort every first Friday of the month. No pre-registration is required.