Spina bifida patients learn how to play tennis

Spina bifida patients learn how to play tennis


Henry Reyes, 7, of Long Beach smacks the ball as young spina bifida patients of Children s Hospital of Orange County participate in a special wheelchair tennis clinic taught by Biola University tennis coach Dee Henry, Sunday, May 3, 2009, at the University. (Correspondent photo by Mike Mullen)


LA MIRADA - You can be in a wheel chair and play tennis. That was the lesson for 16 patients of Children's Hospital of Orange County in a tennis clinic held Sunday at Biola University.

Biola tennis coach Dee Henry held the clinic for the group, ages 8-21.

The group has spina bifida.

"They're going to learn to play tennis in a wheel chair," said Jenee Areeckal, social worker for the hospital.

"It shows them they can play in a wheel chair and eventually be able to play with able-bodied people," Areeckal said.

"Many people in wheel chair feel they they can't play a sport because they're in a wheel chair," she said. "This is to show them they actually can."



Young spina bifida patients of Children s Hospital of Orange County participate in a special wheelchair tennis clinic taught by Biola University tennis coach Dee Henry, center, Sunday, May 3, 2009, at the University. (Correspondent photo by Mike Mullen)


On Sept. 27, the Biola women's tennis partnered with Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) to give tennis lessons to cancer patients who have recently lost limbs. Through a team effort of Biola women’s tennis, CHOC social worker Jenee Areeckal, and volunteers from the Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Funds, five young cancer survivors learned to play tennis using their prosthetic legs and wheelchairs.

The clinic, in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, was held on the courts of Santa Ana College. One of the participants was Timothy Lau, a freshman studying pre-nursing at Biola.

“Tennis gives these kids and people like me the opportunity to play with anyone. This gives them a little glimpse of what they can do,” Henry said. “The sky is the limit.”


Freshman Jennifer Hatton took time out of her busy schedule to elaborate on her experience "serving" at these clinics.

Q:
How does your team benefit from these experiences. Does it help unify your team on the court?

A:
Our team benefits from these experiences by being able to help others. It really helps us as players to go back to the basics. Anytime you teach someone something it just gives you the opportunity to grasp it on a deeper level. We also benefit just seeing all the kids smiling faces. It
helps us to be thankful for what we have, and give us a new excitement for the sport all over again. I believe that playing with the kids did help us on the court. We really thought more about the points and what exactly you want to do on the court.

Q: What was a highlight moment of the event?

A: A highlight event from the event for me was at the end when we split up into teams and we were able to just play different games. It was great. The kids were really excited and having a blast and you could tell by the smiles on their faces.

Q: How I expect this service project to help me in my future endeavors (both on and off of the court).
      
A: By watching these kids it has helped encourage me not only in tennis but in life. I am encouraged to always persevere. Tennis is one of those sports that you are able to play for a long time it is a life sport, so even after I am done playing at the competitive level I fully expect to
play for recreation with my family. It also helped me to be thankful for all that I have and not let anything stop me.

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