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Play It Forward Foundation to host Down syndrome tennis clinic

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Volunteer Ruth helps Sydni Barnes with her swing during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Volunteer Ruth helps Sydni Barnes with her swing during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

The Play It Forward Foundation will host a "We Are Champions" Down Syndrome Tennis Clinic from 7 to 8 p.m. May 8 at Kickingbird Tennis Center, 1500 E Danforth Road, in Edmond.

The Foundation has teamed up with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma in order to serve individuals with Down syndrome and give them the opportunity to learn the game of tennis in a fun and exciting environment. During the one-hour clinic, fundamentals and basic skills will be taught by U.S. Professional Tennis Association instructors who have completed the Safe Play program.

Proceeding the clinic, each participant will receive a certificate, and refreshments will be served.

“Play it Forward is an outreach foundation that celebrates the idea that anyone from anywhere should be able to play and compete,” said David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional and founder of Play It Forward.

“Our focus is diversity and inclusion reaching out to those with special needs and those that might not have the means to afford tennis instruction. What inspired me to start the program was one day I was speaking with a parent about their son playing tournaments, etc. While in conversation, their daughter who has Down syndrome came up to me, gave me the biggest hug and said, 'I want to play tennis!' I was sold! I had never met her before, and she came up to me like she had known me for years,” said Minihan.

Minihan first reached out to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma in May 2018 about offering a tennis clinic to families. Since then, five clinics have been held, with the last one for this season scheduled for May 8. So far, every clinic has had the maximum number of participants. Twelve families have participated in each clinic where they have made lasting friendships and learned how to play the game. DSACO families are thrilled to have the opportunity to get active and learn the sport of tennis from USPTA professionals.

“Addison always looks forward to the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic,” said Mike Klehm, father of Addison and family member of DSACO.

“The tennis instructors and volunteers are so welcoming, encouraging and always ready to give a high-five. The one-on-one instruction creates a great learning environment. The clinic is a wonderful way to exercise, while having fun," Klehm said.

“Our hope is that our program is more than just tennis. Our goal is to improve the athletes’ life skills and confidence while gaining emotional support and building healthy friendships,” Minihan said.

Play It Forward is a 501c(3) nonprofit with the mission “to empower children through mentoring and teamwork, crafting a healthy and successful character, while leading them towards their destination.” For more information call 405-348-3120 or go to https://playitforwardedmond. com/.

DSACO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit at 521 W Wilshire Blvd., Suite 130, in Oklahoma City. Founded in January 2000 by parents of children with Down syndrome, the purpose of the organization is aligned with its mission which is to “raise awareness and provide resources, as well as promote acceptance and inclusion for people with Down syndrome.” For more information, call 405-600-9981, email info@dsaco.org or go to www.dsaco.org/.

Rachel Leonard communications and event coordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma. 

David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Sydni Barnes, Addison Klehm and Brian Basave participate in a tennis drill led by instructor David Kepka during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Sydni Barnes, Addison Klehm and Brian Basave participate in a tennis drill led by instructor David Kepka during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
David Kepka helps Josh Spangler position his racket during a We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
David Kepka helps Josh Spangler position his racket during a We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Addison Klehm prepares to return a serve during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Addison Klehm prepares to return a serve during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Related Photos
David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c38d2c6ee1b421319eb2daf3f863d56a.jpg" alt="Photo - David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]" title="David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]"><figcaption>David Minihan teaches Kasen Gilbreath how to hold his racket during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-16f240f3073a17a913c270344e1e06af.jpg" alt="Photo - Sydni Barnes, Addison Klehm and Brian Basave participate in a tennis drill led by instructor David Kepka during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title="Sydni Barnes, Addison Klehm and Brian Basave participate in a tennis drill led by instructor David Kepka during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption>Sydni Barnes, Addison Klehm and Brian Basave participate in a tennis drill led by instructor David Kepka during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-bcf72a60025fac12d13c7f74ed4dec68.jpg" alt="Photo - David Kepka helps Josh Spangler position his racket during a We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]" title="David Kepka helps Josh Spangler position his racket during a We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]"><figcaption>David Kepka helps Josh Spangler position his racket during a We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f4a6a2d4c6f59029ad7cdaff28af67b4.jpg" alt="Photo - Addison Klehm prepares to return a serve during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]" title="Addison Klehm prepares to return a serve during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]"><figcaption>Addison Klehm prepares to return a serve during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ba84cd6df0fda7c16db1f2b9be9aff3e.jpg" alt="Photo - Volunteer Ruth helps Sydni Barnes with her swing during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]" title="Volunteer Ruth helps Sydni Barnes with her swing during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]"><figcaption>Volunteer Ruth helps Sydni Barnes with her swing during the We Are Champions Tennis Clinic at Kickingbird Tennis Center in Edmond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</figcaption></figure>
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