by Lisa Miller and Farrel Shadlyn QC
(AJNews) – In February 2020, we had the pleasure of visiting our son Tevyn who is studying at the University of Haifa. It was also the perfect opportunity to visit the Israel Tennis & Education Center (ITEC) in Haifa, where funds from the 2018 JNF dinner were allocated.
We were greeted by Sharon Hauzer, the Centre’s director and budding tennis players, who presented the three of us with roses.
It was a gloomy day, the sky was threatening and eventually it rained heavily, but not before we had the chance to walk around the extensive facility. They currently have 18 courts with plans to build two more. That’s where the donation from our dinner comes in. The plans are before the city for a development permit and soon the new courts will be built, along with a full size soccer pitch.
The centre already has a small soccer field and runs a development program for kids. They also have two full courts inside a bubble and a half court, and that’s a good thing as all the programming had to cram onto those two courts that day, when the skies opened up.
Shortly after our arrival, a bus pulled up with intellectually disabled special needs teens and young adults. They attend this facility twice a week for a program run by Shahar Kima and by a nutritionist. Their session began indoors and was tied to Tu Bishvat. The nutritionist ran a program teaching the special needs students about eating healthy fruit and using the fruit to build a design. The next part, was the best part, they got to eat their design.
At that point, Osnat Dvorkin from JNF Jerusalem office joined us and we all headed out to the bubble to watch the varied tennis programming. Young up and comers were on one court. An adult learn -to – play class was on the second court and the special needs program was run on the smaller court.
The special needs young adults look forward to the physical outing. Farrel spent time on the court with them and chatting them up and he thoroughly enjoyed his visit with these appreciative young adults.
The ITEC’s are known for developing the best players in the country. What was heart warming for us is that they also are known for not turning away children that cannot afford a tennis program. In fact, they encourage children from lower socioeconomic families to come to the centers, where they are given not only a tennis racquet but are also provided with counselling, socialization and homework help. We are also encouraged that they welcome children from all religious backgrounds.
“What surprises some people is that the Israel Tennis & Education Centers are about so much more than just tennis,” said Amy Harrington, Executive Director, ITEC Canada. “The vulnerable children and young adults that the ITEC serves through social impact and educational programs come from all different cultures, socioeconomic status’s, athletic abilities, and may be experiencing intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities. Our goal is to ensure that every child in Israel is healthy, educated, equal and equipped to pursue their dreams without religious, economic or social barriers. Regardless of their background, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
For us, we were impressed by the skill of some of the young players that we saw. But we were even more impressed with the programming we took part in with special needs young adults. The dedication and the passion of all the instructors and volunteers is first class.
An expansion of the facilities is needed, and we can’t wait to return someday to see the soon to be completed tennis courts.We are so proud that we were able to play a small part in this worthwhile endeavour.
“We are so grateful for Lisa and Farrel’s support of the ITEC mission through their JNF Negev Dinner campaign,” says Amy Harrington. “The Lisa Miller & Farrel Shadlyn Q.C. Tennis Court for Peace will help us expand our social impact and educational programs and reach more vulnerable, at risk youth in Haifa.”
JNF EDMONTON thanks Lisa and Farrel for visiting this amazing Center! For more information on the ITEC call Jay Cairns at (780)481-7881.