Achieve More Scotland using tennis to make a positive difference to children's wellbeing
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Achieve More Scotland are showing how tennis can make a massive positive difference to the lives of young people in the highest areas of deprivation.
The charity was recently awarded a grant from the LTA Tennis Foundation to appoint a part-time tennis co-ordinator to help them take the sport to more children.
With ongoing support from Tennis Scotland, they deliver the LTA SERVES programme, which helps young people in under-served communities get active and experience the physical, social and mental health benefits of tennis.
The partnership has created access to local weekly tennis sessions for thousands of children across Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.
Speaking to mark Children’s Mental Health Week, the charity’s Business Advisor Robert McHarg said tennis activity at Achieve More Scotland had proven inspirational to many young people.
“We want to make sure children get as many sporting experiences as possible,” he said. “We’ve worked with American Football teams, cricket, basketball, cycling, judo and squash to provide tasters – but the sport with the most significant impact has been tennis.
“We’re trying to enable children to get a racket in their hand – not to find the next Andy Murray or Emma Raducanu – but to find that joy of being able to hit a ball over a net. We wanted to take our work to the next level, so this opportunity to expand and appoint a co-ordinator will help tennis become embedded in our programme.
“There are so many ways of making tennis fun, even in a small space, in a non-competitive way. We’ve been able to put rackets in their hands, give them a ball, a space to play and let them get enjoyment from that.”
Achieve More Scotland was formed 15 years ago, borne out of Robert’s “frustration at the lack of quality services for children and young people”.
After establishing programmes tailored around football and dancing, the charity soon turned their attention to tennis, and now estimate that they’ve helped put a racket in the hands of more than 2,000 children.
“It is well-documented that children and young people growing up in an area of deprivation are more likely to have physical and mental health problems, more likely to end up in the criminal justice system and less likely to have well-paid employment or qualifications,” said Robert.
“A massive focus of the charity has been utilising sport as the tool for engagement. Having been brought up in that environment, sport was the sort of thing that really assisted me. Positive role models were people I knew through sport, and we wanted to replicate that in the charity.
“It is about giving children the opportunity to get sporting experiences that might ordinarily be denied them, and our constitution says that no child or parent will ever pay a penny for participation – everything is free and always will be.”
The LTA Tennis Foundation grant has allowed Achieve More Scotland to employ Jack Edward as their new tennis co-ordinator. He will work to take tennis activity to even more communities with a focus on keeping children in the sport after it has been first introduced.
The partnership with Tennis Scotland also allowed Achieve More Scotland to take a group of children to The Championships – Wimbledon at the All England Club in London last summer, thanks to ticket donations.
Since 2022, the number of LTA SERVES venues in Scotland has risen to 46, with organisations receiving ongoing support from Tennis Scotland, £500 worth of tennis equipment, Tennis Activator training and access to a range of social impact measuring tools.
Robert said working alongside Tennis Scotland Participation Development Managers Mike Kolacz and Neil Haig had helped the charity’s tennis offering flourish.
“Mike and Neil have been incredible in terms of supporting us to become an LTA SERVES venue and made sure we offered the best service possible,” said Robert. “They have been there for us constantly and guided us through the LTA Tennis Foundation application.”
Tennis Scotland are always keen to hear from organisations interested in getting involved with the LTA SERVES programme. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org