We’re checking in with new Program Directors Parsia Vazirnia and Jeffrey Ai from Milwaukee, WI, who had their session.
“It was excellent. There was an overwhelming amount of support from parents, volunteers, and the Milwaukee community. We ended up with 13 participants and approximately 60 volunteers which was more than we were expecting. We had some volunteers from middle school, high school, undergrad, medical/graduate school, as well as the greater Milwaukee community,” Parsia rejoiced.
A medical student, Parsia was pleasantly surprised by how much external support they ended up getting. “We had so much support from the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin that helped us recruit a majority of our participants, as well as the Wisconsin Tennis Association.” We also had an incredible and reliable team. I had high expectations for all of them and they met every single one of them.
Beyond an incredible first session, Parsia also enjoying learning through these 5 weeks. “I learned how crucial it is to have the right match between volunteers and participants,” he explained. “Some participants would not engage with certain volunteers but were very receptive to other volunteers. I had multiple parents come up to me happy to see their child engaging more with the program and specifically requested to keep certain volunteers assigned to their child.”
Parsia had fun seeing how much the kids loved the games, but more importantly even coming up with their own. “One child introduce a particular game which became a hit with the other kids called “Mr. Fox.” Seeing the improvements was another highlight for him, such as hitting volleys and groundstrokes. “They also got much better at being able to work together. It was a big challenge to get the participants engaging with one another in the beginning.”
Through it all, the support of their community partners has been key and they want to recognize their involvement. “We could not have done this without all of our community partners such as Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Tennis Association, Friends for Special Needs at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and ACEing Autism Nationals for all of their continued support,” Jeffrey Ai added.
Lastly, the new Program Directors were very happy to hear parents saying that they were going to enroll their child in tennis lessons until their next session. Check in soon as “we are helping the Wisconsin Tennis Association set up their own holiday program on December 11th, so stay tuned for more on that and our next session in February!”