How tennis can enhance the lives of children with vision impairment
A national charity aims to make tennis inclusive and accessible to all individuals and communities.
The Tennis Foundation works with school and colleges to help more young players take up the sport, including children with a wide range of disabilities.
Cody, who is nine, has vision impairment (VI) and plays tennis at school. He tells us what he thinks about the sport:
“I first got into tennis nine months ago because of school. I go to a mainstream primary school which has a base that supports me and other VI children. VI tennis is different from tennis because we use a different type of ball. It’s a soft, spongy ball with a bell inside.
“I really enjoy our tennis sessions because it’s fun. I learn how to enjoy and play a sport. I’m not part of any tennis clubs or leagues, but I do play it weekly in school. I really enjoy being sociable with the other children. I know that playing sport is good for you because it gets your heart pumping and working harder. It makes blood pump around your body supplying oxygen to your heart and brain.
“Recently, me and six other VI children from my school went to Loughborough University to take part in a Junior VI Tennis Festival run by the Tennis Foundation. It was a really long day because we set off from school at 8am in the morning and didn’t get back until 8pm at night. Over the course of the day we played lots of warm up games, developed our skills for listening for the ball, practiced hitting the ball over the net, and worked with a partner to pass it backwards and forwards. Some children even got into playing full rallies with some of the coaches. We were given a tennis racket and a ball for taking part. I went to bed as soon as I got home!"
Paul Davies, Cody’s PE Teacher, tells us why he thinks it’s so important children are involved in sport and shares how playing tennis has helped his students flourish:
“From playing tennis, our students are far more confident in and around PE settings. This has meant that pupils have been more likely to take up new sports and activities around school and in the wider community. Through increased participation and highly skilled coaching and teaching, the pupils have a greater sense of pride towards the school and more importantly themselves. By being active, pupils are calmer, can concentrate better and are more motivated to succeed than ever before.”
Matthew Elkington from the Tennis Foundation explains how other schools can get involved in adding tennis to the curriculum:
“Tennis is a sport that gives young people not just the physical literacy they need to be active in later life, but the life skills – such as resilience, adaptability and drive – that will help them whatever their ambitions in education, employment or personal life.
“The Tennis Foundation provides free teacher training courses and innovative resources to help teachers integrate tennis into the PE curriculum. Many schools are already using tennis to give their pupils experiences within and beyond the curriculum that develop valuable social and life skills.”