Howes Primary School in Coventry has a Hearing Impaired Unit as part of the inclusive school and started running a deaf tennis club as a result of a lack of sporting opportunities for deaf children in Coventry. The aim was to give deaf children the opportunity to participate in sport and to help them to develop an interest in tennis.
Staff initially attended Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All Inclusive PE training and the Tennis Foundation’s inclusive tennis training. This gave them the confidence to set up and run the club. The Tennis Foundation provided a starter pack of inclusive tennis equipment which also helped enormously.
The club has now been running every week for over a year and regularly has 100% attendance. The club sessions are supported by Year 6 Sports Leaders who have planned and led activities. One Year 3 deaf pupil has started to help sign the sessions and he now has an interest in coaching when he is older. The children in the club are currently working towards their mini red certificates.
To celebrate the work of the deaf tennis club and to give more children the opportunity to have a taster day of tennis, the club decided to run a Deaf Tennis Family Fun Day they targeted all deaf children in the West Midlands and Warwickshire to attend. The club also encouraged families to get involved so that they could see the enjoyment their children got out of tennis. This was done specifically as it was felt this would encourage them to help their children continue playing tennis at home.
After receiving funding from the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust, the club was able to get on with arranging the day. They were supported by specialist coaches from David Lloyd, Coventry City Football Club, Year 6 Sports Leaders and the Tennis Foundation. Children started the day by designing their own tennis t-shirt to wear at the event. After a whole group warm-up, the children split into small groups and moved around a carousel of activities including forehand, backhand and volley drills, serving into an inflatable goal and core strength and stability exercises. All children and families enjoyed a Wimbledon-style picnic together including strawberries and fruit punch. After this they watched the coaches play in a very exciting match and then ended the day with some more whole group tennis activities.
At the end of the day, children were awarded with certificates, wrist bands and pens. All children and their families had a fantastic day. The club says this has led to increased enjoyment of and interest in tennis. Some of the families have since registered their children at tennis clubs outside school so that their children can participate in more tennis.