“Further to our support this term with the charity Bright Ideas for Tennis (BIFT), one of our pupils was inspired to get involved in the BIFT volunteering programme to help make Tennis more inclusive to those with physical, sensory and mental health issues.
Etienne (Remove, Priestley) attended a BIFT training day over the February half term at his local club, Harrow Lawn Tennis Club where he has been a member for 5 years. The first part of the session was delivered by a disability expert who gave a general overview of all types of disabilities, including those with visual and hearing impairments and wheelchair users.
One activity during the first half of the training day was a simulation of the kind of tasks people with disabilities would have to navigate when playing tennis. Half of the participants were blindfolded and the other half were instructed to use only non-verbal communication while they erected and took down tennis equipment. Learning difficulties were also a focus as Harrow Tennis Club has a link with a local SEN School for Autistic pupils.
The second part of the training day covered the practical side of coaching. The focus was on how to approach the clients and adapt sessions so they are suitable for all people with health conditions or impairments. They stressed the importance of ensuring there is enough challenge incorporated in the drills but also being flexible and regressing them when necessary.
Etienne hopes to be able to attend further training days so that he can put his skills into practice with BIFT Disability Tennis Days. There could be a possibility of rolling this volunteering opportunity out to other Millhillians in the future.
Etienne said he found the day extremely rewarding. It gave him lots of confidence in ensuring that these individuals have the very best day on the tennis court and leaving them wanting to come back for more.
As well as giving up his time for volunteering, Etienne had a recent birthday and rather than receiving presents, he asked his friends and family to make donations to the School’s BIFT Just Giving page. Etienne should be commended for his selfless acts and he should be very proud of his achievements!”
Miss Ward, Head of Tennis