“It takes a village to raise a child” is a proverb often used to reflect on community influencers throughout formative years; however, as is often the case in underserved communities, the “village” can lack essential resources or human capital to assist in positive youth development. As a result, a child’s physical, social-emotional, and academic growth may be stunted, creating even greater barriers for future success. Fortunately, we have found so many tremendous leaders looking to make a difference by guiding and supporting children as they grow. At The ACE Project, we recruit and train coaches among a wide range of community members, including parents, teachers, and school administration. By hiring coaches from within the community, youth benefit from consistent presence of attentive, caring adults. For the adults, it builds new individual skillsets and boosts the local economy, which is key to reaching our vision.
To make sure our coaches are prepared each season, The ACE Project hosts trainings in Riverdale/Dolton and Baltimore to teach new tennis activities, discuss program trends and shifts, and create workplans for the upcoming season. This February, we welcomed 42 coaches between the two trainings! It was an incredible experience for all as we shared in the joy of tennis together while learning new skills collaboratively.
It’s essential that we make learning fun for our young ACE-ers to keep them engaged and interested. That means our trainings must reflect the same positive energy we look to impart to youth. This season, we played a skill-building game that was a mix between Outburst and Pictionary; it had the entire group smiling and laughing throughout as we practiced effective communication. These moments are made for the highlight reels!
Following the training, Dedra Burnett, Director of Programs & Services in Chicago, shared “I’m hopeful that I can inspire the kids. I think I can help motivate children to make better choices and believe in themselves. Through the trainings, I know we are making a difference. It has helped build strong relationships with the staff.”
The ACE Team is the best team, and we don’t just say that because we are biased. Each day, we see motivated, dedicated individuals make time in their busy lives to learn new skills and make new connections all to benefit more kids in our communities. It is an inspiration to work alongside these passionate leaders!