Fitness for Life
Youth fitness is about more than just keeping children healthy during their formative years. It’s also the best way to establish lifelong healthy habits through a love of sports. For children in low-income neighborhoods, there are few opportunities to learn about sports that aren’t played in the schoolyard.
The Salvation Army’s youth programs strive to make a wide variety of sports available to local children who might otherwise miss out. For decades the Eagle Creek Corps Community Center on Indy’s west side has offered activities like archery, ballet, indoor soccer, and basketball.
This fall, the community center kicked off a new tennis program in collaboration with National Junior Tennis and Learning of Indianapolis. Children ages five to twelve can enroll in the weekly program, where they play in The Salvation Army’s gymnasium using pop-up nets and equipment provided by NJTL.
“It’s one of the sports that’s lifelong,” shared Dillyn Klemchuk, Youth Development Coordinator at Eagle Creek. “You see older men and women in their retirement still able to be active. It’s something that as long as you have a racket and a ball and a wall, you can play.”
The first five-week session of 2022 recently wrapped up with nine children enrolled in the program. Under the guidance of NHTL coaches, many of whom play collegiate tennis at Marian University, each child is gaining the skill and confidence to participate on the school tennis team once they reach middle school.
“They think their coaches are so cool. The amount of patience they have is incredible,” said Dillyn. She’s seen tremendous results already, especially for one 8-year-old in the program who faces many physical challenges from Marfan’s syndrome. “He’s not able to run around and participate in most games because he can’t do anything that increases his blood pressure,” Dillyn explained. “Tennis is the first sport he can play – it’s the first time he gets to play like a kid.”
Families find the new tennis program very affordable at just $30 for an entire five-week session. While scholarships are available, Dillyn would love to have donors step up and sponsor an entire session for just $300.
“It would just be so wonderful,” she said. Your support for The Salvation Army makes programs like this possible. Thank you for showing such care for our community and for the next generation of Hoosiers.