Macon — A Macon tennis program is teaching the sport to children with special needs.
Net Therapy, hosted by the Macon Tennis Association, is an hour-long session that focuses on teaching the game's basic skills.
"We wanted to do community outreach and really reach out to those underserved communities who wouldn't be introduced to the game of tennis," said Jenni Eddlemon of Net Therapy. "Tennis is kind of that mental, social, and physical relief that we all enjoy that you can’t find in a doctor’s office."
Tre Gavin brought his 11-year old son, Jack, to the session on Monday. Jack has down syndrome, and Gavin said Net Therapy is one of the few programs his son can participate in.
"Other than Special Olympics, this is the only event that offers stuff for children with special needs," Gavin said.
10 kids participated on Monday. Coaches taught basic drills that challenged the athletes' motor skills. Eddlemon said that is something that makes tennis an ideal sport for special needs children to participate.
"I think it’s the hand-eye coordination with these kids and just having that mental for an hour focusing on to instruction and watch the ball and use a different part of their brain that they normally wouldn’t do," Eddlemon said.
It made kids like Jack feel accepted while being active, his father said.
"Out here, he’s got acceptance of his peers where all these children have special needs of some level, and so Jack can come out here and everyone is accepted," Gavin said.
Brian Roberts has been coaching tennis for 20 years. He said that for a program like Net Therapy to be successful, no one can be underestimated.
"It's just like anybody else. [You] want to treat everybody [the same] and use whatever you have," Roberts said. "If somebody's in a wheelchair, use what you have and it's amazing when we don't put limits on people."
The attitude gives kids like Jack a chance at a lifelong sport that both Eddlemon and Roberts said can be played by anyone aged "2 to 92."
The program plans to begin sessions for veterans in the near future.