UH Adaptive Athletics welcomes players for a week of activities
By Mike Emery, 713-743-7197
This week all eyes are on Wimbledon, but another international tennis event features true champions of the court.
The University of Houston welcomes young players ages 11-18 from around the world for the American Tennis Association/International Tennis Federation Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp (July 6 to 11). Players spend the week at the University, developing their skills on the field, bonding with other campers and exploring campus.
The University’s Adaptive Athletics Program oversees the day-to-day activities of the event and assists campers (who come from various parts of North and South America) during their time on campus. The Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp is supported by the University’s Cougar Initiative to Engage (CITE), which provides grants for community engagement programs.
Michael Cottingham, associate professor of health and human performance, works directly with campers. He also provides guidance to UH Adaptive Athletics students overseeing camp activities.
In addition to Cottingham and the participating students, professional coaches from across the country lead tennis drills to improve players’ swings, volleys and mobility on the court. The event will conclude with a competitive tournament.
Beyond tennis, the camp also aims to build the confidence and independence of its participants.
“These campers are part of a socially segregated and often ostracized population,” Cottingham said. “It will be the first time that many of them will be away from their parents. It is an opportunity for young people with disabilities to come together, live independently and learn more about what they are capable of. do… on and off the tennis court.
UH students involved in the event also learn new skills by working closely with visiting campers. According to Cottingham, they gain significant real-world experience that can be applied to future careers in medicine and health care.
Adaptive Athletics supports athletic opportunities for students with disabilities at UH. The student-run organization also sponsors national and international events such as this week’s tennis camp and wheelchair rugby tournaments. Last year, Cottingham and his students refurbished 40 sports wheelchairs for a non-profit organization based in Bangladesh.
Cottingham thanks CITE for supporting this week’s event and other community projects on campus. Likewise, it is particularly grateful to CITE for providing resources to teachers to develop innovative programs.
“Through CITE, our visiting campers and student volunteers can have meaningful learning experiences,” he said.
Based in the Provost’s Office, CITE is UH’s quality improvement plan to increase the number of high-impact learning activities and the number of undergraduate students participating in these activities. Since its inception, CITE has awarded 91 grants, which have supported 66 programs. Around 5,000 students have reaped the benefits of these CITE-supported projects.