Dozens of children, young adults, and volunteers from all over Tulsa attended the first ever Jesen-Schmidt Tennis Academy for Downs Syndrome at the new Lafortune Case Center.
Former professional tennis star and co-founder, Dr. Vincent Schmidt, began the tennis academy 14 years ago in St. Louis and says parents are very happy with the outcome of the two day camp.
“The response has been unbelievable. Simply because they understand that this is an opportunity that if we weren't there they wouldn't have for their kids and everybody wants all the opportunities they can possibly have for their own particular kids.”
Students working with Academy volunteers learn the fundamentals of the game, balance, coordination, and other attributes that make a good tennis player.
However, it is the physical skills that ultimately benefit those with Downs Syndrome outside of the clinic.
Dr. Schmidt's own son was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome shortly after birth and Schmidt says his son reaps the benefits of balance and coordination despite his diagnosis.
“Because he's been on the tennis court with me since he was born he's developed incredible hand eye coordination, he's developed incredible skills with balance. He doesn't have issues of walking a little staggered like some kids with Downs Syndrome might be able to do or might have to do.”
Coordinator of Special Needs Tennis at the Lafortune Case Center, Julie Harrelson, worked relentlessly to make the program available for Tulsan's and understands the benefit of health and fitness for challenged individuals looking to exert energy.
“I have years worked with children with special needs and I just know sports is so good for children and it's very important for our children with special needs to work on their bodies.”
For more information of the Jensen-Schmidt Tennis Academy or to donate click here.