Brenda Dean is serious about getting kids active. And she wants them to have fun doing it.
To that end, the dynamic tennis instructor has been working with local elementary schools to spread the word that tennis is a great way to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
For the first time this year Dean, who offers lessons through both Courtenay and Comox rec centres, has expanded her teaching to include school classes. “I met with Nick Moore (School District 71 physical education resource teacher) and asked if I could come in and do these (lessons) with the kids,” said Dean.
“I have been to seven schools with just over 400 children. I volunteer (at a school) four lunch hours a week. I bring all of the equipment (courtesy of Tennis Canada and Tennis BC) and introduce the kids to some basic skills and fun.”
While most of the instruction takes place in the school gym, Dean took advantage of a recent sunny spring day to have a group of enthusiastic Robb Road Elementary students play outdoors at the Robb Road courts in Comox.
Despite kids packing almost every corner of the courts, they were attentive, interested and eager to display their newly-acquired skills. After 40 minutes of play and instruction, the kids helped her pack up the nets as Dean headed off to another school.
Dean said the nice thing about going to the schools is the continuity it offers the kids. “It’s not just for one day,” she said. “And they actually have time to play tennis.”
Although there are not enough weeks in the year for her to visit all local elementary schools, Dean says the schools she has visited are seeing the value of the program. “The response has been good from the schools and the kids.”
She said the idea of bringing tennis to elementary schools came to her when she was teaching juniors at the Comox Valley Tennis Club last year. “It’s been very gratifying…so much more than I thought it was going to be.”
Dean is a member of the Tennis Professional Association, Canadian Fitness Professionals, an NCCP Level 2 coach and a Tennis Canada certified instructor.
With tennis and fitness such a big part of her life, Dean was delighted to recently team up with the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA).
“Together we are getting the word out about childhood obesity and the rise in type 2 diabetes in children (as young as eight) and adults. This program is in line with what I am trying to promote.
“The Canadian Diabetes Association is excited about this partnership. Working with groups in my local and global community will only serve to help get children and adults more active,” Dean said.
Last year Dean became the Tennis Canada’s Building Tennis Communities champion for the Comox Valley and she said that partnering with the CDA will mean she will be developing even more programs in the weeks to come.
Getting kids outside having fun and not sitting at home in front of a TV or computer can be a family affair, and she notes tennis can be played year-round and is much more affordable than many think.
“All you need is a racquet, a ball and some concrete. I can show families how to set up something with a piece of skipping rope and some tape or chalk.”
Those wishing more information (including family tennis nights, team tennis and winter programs) can contact Dean through her website at www.inyourcourttennis.com. More information on her community programs is also available through Courtenay Rec and Comox Rec.
Noting the success of Milos Raonic, Canada’s 22nd-ranked ATP male singles player, Dean feels future Canadian champions will come from the community ranks, which makes spreading the good word about tennis to as many as possible extremely worthwhile.