Andre, 18 years old, has been playing tennis for little over a year. Suffering from a developmental disability, the immigrant from the former Soviet Union has thrived on the courts of the Marjorie Sherman Israel Tennis & Education Center – Ashkelon.
Andre arrived in Israel when he was just two years old and, together with his family, settled in the small town of Netivot, about 30 minutes from Ashkelon. Andre attends the Ma’ayan Sara School for children with physical and developmental disabilities. Last year, ITEC manager Shaya Azar initiated a partnership with the school, bringing the pupils to the center once a week for sports activities. “I started this project with no funding, but thanks to the support of the ITEC, we are able to continue working with these amazing children, Azar said. “Seeing Andre flourish on the tennis courts warms my heart. He is such a positive, happy and loving young boy.”
Andre has achieved some great results at national Special Tennis tournaments. He traveled with five other Israeli Special Tennis athletes to Germany to compete in his first ever international tournament. “Thanks to tennis and the ITEC, I was able to meet new people and it made me feel like I belong, “Andre said. “I love the center in Ashkelon and I love my coaches here”. Andre’s sister, Olga, sees a dramatic difference. “Since my brother started coming to the ITEC, I have really noticed a big change in him. He has become more sociable, more relaxed and more open to new things.”
The Israel Tennis & Education Centers’ social impact programs have made a huge difference in the lives of developmentally and physically challenged children and young adults such as Andre. The ITEC serves populations with various special needs, including those with developmental and physical disabilities, Autism, ADHD, army injuries and emotional and psychological stress. Children and adults both greatly benefit from participating in the ITEC’s nationwide weekly tennis and fitness activities. These programs boost their self-esteem, enhance their concentration and stamina and contribute to their willpower and overall health and well-being.