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Tennis program provides new opportunities for kids with autism

ACEing Autism
Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 24, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — 14-year-old, Brady Higgins, tried out something new on Sunday.

"He said that he definitely enjoyed it. He really enjoys sports with balls. The ball option was fun for him," said Brady's Mom, Lisa Higgins.

One in 54 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States. The national tennis program, ACEing Autism, is giving all kids access to the sport. They're hosting their first camp in Tucson at the Jewish Community Center, this Fall.

"We do a group warm up and hand-eye coordination drills. We work on some racket skills. We do some basic tennis strokes like volleys, ground strokes and serves," said Tucson Jewish Community Center Director of Racket Sports, Miguel Coelho.

Every child is paired up with one to two volunteers. They guide the kids through the lesson and cheer them on.

"The kids were really engaged and excited to get out and hit the balls," said ACEing Autism Volunteer, Margaret Cohen.

ACEing Autism is about more than tennis. Providing an opportunity to connect with others is the program's main focus.

"The most important thing is to give the kids an opportunity to be with other kids. They have the chance to socialize and have a good time," said Cohen.

The lessons have allowed Brady to shine.

"It's harder when you don't have great coordination and motor skills. Those things don't come easy to you. I'm very grateful for opportunities like this," said Higgins.

Registration is still open for ACEing Autism's Fall session in Tucson. To sign up, click here.