NEW YORK, N.Y., June 24, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via PRWEB - The first annual youth tennis exchange program was launched earlier this month by the Israel Tennis Centers and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. Children from both organizations met and competed in an exciting international exhibition at Legacy's tennis complex on Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia. For the ITC team, it was the culmination of its early summer fundraising series, having flown from Israel and competed in events in Toronto, New Jersey and New York before concluding their visit in Philadelphia.
Both non-profits share the same important mission of teaching life skills to disadvantaged youth through the medium of tennis. Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, formerly the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, has been providing tennis instruction, educational programming and positive opportunities to more than 4,500 local Philadelphia children annually. Legacy's program teaches rewarding lessons while building confidence and discipline that will help these young people succeed in life.
Similarly, the Israel Tennis Centers has been improving the lives of Israeli youth of all backgrounds since its first of 14 centers opened in 1976. Through its social impact programs, over 20,000 children from underdeveloped areas of the country are served every year, including youth at risk, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants and children with special needs, from autism and ADHD to Down Syndrome as well as those with developmental and physical disabilities. The ITC also brings together children from different religions in coexistence programs, promoting understanding, cooperation and friendship on and off the court.
The event had a very positive impact on both groups. "Having the Israelis come and kick start the "Building Bridges" program was so exciting," said 13 year old Brandon Caban, part of Legacy's Maximum Performance program. "It's like we're expanding our Legacy family across the world."
15 year old Yoav Nir of the Israel Tennis Centers agreed. "I learned so much about the Legacy kids who, just like me, want to be great players and meet people from other places. Everyone was so welcoming and made me feel right at home in Philadelphia. I'm looking forward to welcoming them to Israel."
The "Building Bridges" program aims to match 30 young tennis players from Legacy with players from the Israel Tennis Centers in an online pen pal exchange and international youth tennis exchange program. Through email writing, photo sharing and live web chats, these young people will learn about each other's countries and cultures and share tennis strategies and techniques. Selected participants will also have the opportunity to travel to their pen pal's country. The exchange portion of "Building Bridges" will take place during the 2015 summer season, and visits will include home stays with families in Israel and Philadelphia, participation in tennis camps and visits to each country's important historical sites. Below is a special link to the ITC website for those who wish to make a donation to help offset the travel costs associated with this exchange program:
"Building Bridges" is what our programs are all about…building understanding and peace among children from different backgrounds who all strive to achieve to the best of their abilities," said Jacqueline Glodstein, VP/ITC Global Development. "We are extremely pleased to be working with an organization like Legacy to empower these young people to succeed in sport and in life…both on and off the tennis court."
For more information on the "Building Bridges" program, contact Richard Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-884-7410, or Ben Hirsh at BHirsh@legacyyte.org or 215-487-3477. You can also visit the organizations' websites at http://www.israeltenniscenters.org and http://www.legacyyte.org.
This article was originally distributed on PRWeb. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/06/prweb11960153.htm
Israel Tennis Centers Richard Weber +1 646-884-7410