AYTEF promotes positive youth development through afterschool tennis and education programs that provide academic support, foster social and emotional learning, improve health and fitness, and create a supportive community for youth.
AYTEF afterschool tennis and education programs aim to develop social and emotional capacities in under-resourced youth that correlate with long-term gains in high school completion, college/career readiness, and increased life-long thriving. Our curriculum empowers youth to gain and utilize the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to comprehend and regulate emotions, set and accomplish positive goals, demonstrate empathy towards others, foster and sustain healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING
SERVED IN 2022
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AYTEF acknowledges the significant challenges faced by low-income Black and Hispanic youth in achieving educational equity. These youth also face the highest barriers to entry for the sport of tennis. AYTEF believes that the powerful combination of tennis and academics can change lives for ALL children regardless of race or socio-economic background.
Mrs. Ukoha initially contacted AYTEF to enroll her three children in programming, expressing the challenges they faced in accessing the same academic and enrichment opportunities available to families with greater financial resources. While she had been attempting to secure better educational options for her children, the expenses associated with activities such as STEM, coding, tutoring, and elite sports programs posed a significant barrier. AYTEF programs offered the desired enrichment and support at affordable rates, allowing Mrs. Ukoha to provide her children with these opportunities.
Grant funding and generous donations have allowed dedicated and caring AYTEF staff to provide the Ukoha family with essential academic, character development, and athletic enrichment opportunities that are equipping the Ukoha children to reach their true potential.
For the 2023 USTA Foundation NJTL Essay Contest, youth were prompted to reflect on the individuals who have contributed to their accomplishments. Here are selected passages from AYTEF student essays highlighting the significant role AYTEF staff play in fostering positive character development and on-court growth:
Coach Kirsten (K) is the coach that I've known for the longest time and has made the biggest impact on my life. She keeps me on track and keeps me positive. She encourages me to have consistent effort because she is kind, respectful, and reminds me to not give up.
Coach Alex helped me on specific things like forehands, backhands, and putting my racket behind my shoulder. Coach Keenan is so COOL. He helped me understand perfectly, well almost perfectly, how add in, add out, and deuce works. He really helped me focus on sets and how a set tie breaker works. Coach Kirsten helped me with being focused, and with my positivity, in school and other places. Coach Epiphany is so similar to Coach Kirsten and she helped me with great form, getting my racket behind my shoulder and encouragement. And Coach John helped me believe that I can do something even if it looks hard. I'm glad that I have all of these coaches in my life to help me everywhere I go and will be.
In practice, Coach. K. is incredibly understanding and lets me be myself. Not just that, but she's also amazing and motivating. She makes me push myself and try my hardest every day I am at practice as well. I have improved so much emotionally and physically ever since I met Coach. K. She taught me different strategies to be better at the game. She just cares that we have fun and improve, and love the game of tennis.
In the middle of 2022, when I first started at AYTEF, I wasn't in the greatest mindset. My father, who was wonderful in every way possible, passed away in March. This and additional events made me frustrated, drained, and unhappy. When I first started playing on the courts, I usually did not pay attention and released my anger while playing, which had a significant impact on me, as a tennis player and individual. I was incapable of doing anything right including hitting the ball or even knowing the names of the lines on the court; that was until I met Coach Kane. He provided me with excellent advice and tips, and all of his effort reminded me of my dad, and that truly comforted me. Although Coach Kane is not at AYTEF anymore, when I'm at practice, I think back to the time we spent together, recall the things he taught me and apply them to my everyday life. Even though my father’s passing will always be in my mind, I'm so grateful and appreciative because Coach Kane is one of many that continues to help me move forward in life.