Kalamazoo, MI

We’re excited to do another check-in with our new Program Director Nancy Martin from our Kalamazoo, MI program.
“This program has brought nothing short of warmth, an opportunity to give back, fun, laughter, pride, a sense of community, and fulfillment in knowing I/we are doing something that truly makes a difference in the lives of our participants and their parents.”
For Nancy, bringing ACEing Autism to Kalamazoo was a very natural and important initiative. “Given that I have been a teacher for 39 years and worked with hundreds of kids on the spectrum, I thought it would be great to investigate tennis for children with autism. I have also been a tennis coach, tennis player as a junior and collegiate player, then USPTR certified. Thus, any connection between tennis and kids with autism is right up my alley. As I started to research, I found ACEing Autism and thought it was a perfect match for me,” pun intended. “Kalamazoo has always been known as a tennis town largely due to the National Boys 16 and 18 tournament hosted in Kalamazoo for more than 80 years. Tennis is strong here and the community loves tennis opportunities!”
In just six weeks, “I’ve seen immense growth and improvement in language skills, focus, gross motor skills, sequencing, socialization, and maturity in each of our participants,” she cheerfully shared. “Each child has grown by leaps and bounds in their self-confidence which enhances each of the aforementioned skills. Kids have really come out of their shells and blossomed.
For instance, a 9 year old little boy who is not very verbal yelled out “thank you tennis” after successfully hitting three volleys in a row. “His Mom in the stands started crying, volunteers were tearing up and the little boy was elated, Nancy fondly recalled.
If you’re interested in joining as a parent or a volunteer, check out our Kalamazoo page or our volunteer page under our Get involved tab.

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