Tennis, Literacy and Summer Fun

The program that blends tennis and literacy activities throughout the summer months is close to completing another successful summer at Constitution Beach in East Boston.

Tenacity’s Summer Tennis & Reading Program (STRP), which serves over 4,400 Eastie and Boston youth of all ages with tennis, literacy and fitness programs is taking place weekly at the beach.

During the regular school year in Eastie, Tenacity addresses the needs of Boston’s youth in its After-School Excellence Program (ASEP). The goal of this three-year intensive program is to enhance children’s lives by providing tennis, academic tutoring, and life-skill development in sanctioned after-school activities.

In addition to intensive tennis instruction, students receive academic tutoring from local college students and professionals.  Academic coordinators, who work closely with the teachers at area schools in order to help identify the needs and strengths of each student, guide the tutoring.

Tenacity then supplements this learning in the summer months with STRP at the Eastie site. The philosophy is that all sports help counteract the sedentary, media-saturated lifestyles of too many American kids today but not all sports, and sports-related programs, have the same positive impact on at-risk kids in inner-city neighborhoods with high rates of gang-related crime, violence and academic underachievement.

For the kids participating they learn that the qualities of individual responsibility, good citizenship, inner self-confidence and effective self-control are not abstract aspirations, but essential life skills. It has been found that Tenacity, and its use of tennis and literacy, is particularly effective in promoting important qualities for its program participants.

Furthermore, kids in Eastie are learning a healthy sport that they will be able to play for the rest of their lives.

Recent academic research has shown that a large part of the urban-suburban school performance gap can be attributed to differing summer activities. Tenacity works to narrow this gap, providing urban kids a daily dose of physical and literacy activities throughout the summer months.

This summer the kids participating in the program got to play on arguably one of the best courts in the city.

Over the spring state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) completed a $300,000 project that replaced the two aging tennis courts at the beach with a new three tennis court facility. The project included new landscaping, new fencing, improve site drainage and added more trees for shade.

DCR’s Mark McLean said the project improved user experience, safety and accessibility. The project also accommodated increased user demand and improved current drainage conditions at the courts.

The courts were flagged by DCR as needing resurfacing back in 2006. DCR sought guidance from the United States Tennis Association on design and orientation of the proposed new courts.

In March, the DCR presented its changes to the beach courts to the Boston Conservation Commission and began permitting the project and broke ground in May.

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