WTEF Unveils its East Capital Campus - Opening its New Tennis, Education and Community Center in Southeast DC
A neighborhood often overlooked, home to children at-risk due to gang violence, yet one with tremendous hope, pride and potential, came alive on Saturday, November 17th with the long-awaited opening of WTEF's Tennis, Education and Community Center in the heart of Ward 7. More than 350 children, their families, dignitaries and guests were on hand for tours, entertainment, presentations and the ribbon cutting of this East Capital Campus of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation.
The sight of children actually playing tennis for the first time on the indoor courts in a Center in their own neighborhood was something the Foundation Board of Directors has been dreaming and hoping of for many years. And, the sheer sight of young children conducting tours around their new facility elicited a constant chorus of "Wow!" The positive impact this new facility will have on children is overwhelming. WTEF will be able to double the number of kids it serves and expand its programs, all the while, continuing to provide a safe haven and beacon of hope for hundreds of children. This new center is only the beginning of renewal. All one has to do is look at the smiling faces and listen to the laughter of the children to understand that their lives will forever be changed.
Amongst the over 350 guests were Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray. Mayor Gray announced, "I am pleased today to declare, November 17, 2012, as The Washington Tennis & Education Foundation Day in Washington, D.C." He explained that, "73% of the abuse and neglect cases that occur in the District of Columbia, occur east of the river - in Ward 7 and 8 and that this will be a place where we can bring families together in ways that they otherwise might not have been brought together. Congresswoman Norton stated that "this tennis center is going to help kids remain focused on two things at one time - learning and tennis. Tennis they will find irresistible - and over time, the same can happen for learning...what you have done here is you have made tennis and learning go hand in hand - with the after school classes and the focus on academics and the computer labs. "
This state-of-the-art $10 million facility will offer increased opportunities to change the lives of underserved children. The six indoor courts, classrooms, computer lab and fitness room, plus nine outdoor tennis courts and a large community center, will be accessible to our students and families during extended operating hours seven days a week, year-round. The location will become a gathering place for the neighborhood, encouraging greater parent participation, increasing staff/family dialogue, engaging families in program planning and providing meeting space for community needs. Our partnerships with the local preschools, public schools and charter schools will help us stretch beyond the children and families enrolled in our programs and touch the entire community.
WTEF Executive Director, Eleni Rossides, thanked the many people, who gave their time and financial assistance to ensure this center became a reality. "Today we gather to celebrate this accomplishment and to thank people without whose dedication and commitment this center would never have been built. I am truly humbled by the number of volunteer hours and generosity of giving that I have witnessed during this monumental effort."
Click here to check out the great article in the Washington Post about the New Center!