An Atlanta-area teenager who was inspired by a workshop and exhibition program for the blind has started a tennis camp to aid the same such group, My Fox Atlanta reported.
Tanvi Dange, 16, said she was a sixth-grader when the idea to start a program for the blind and visually impaired struck her. A tennis player herself, Dange had attended the exhibit “Dialogue in the Dark,” which offers programs for handicapped people— especially those who are blind, or visually or hearing impaired— in more than 32 countries and 130 cities in the world.
Dange and her parents, of Alpharetta, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta, contacted Heather Dicks, director of the Stars Program for the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta, earlier this year. They asked about setting up adapted tennis for students who were visually impaired.
Dicks agreed, and they recruited students for the camp, which was held at local Piedmont Park. Dicks said she was surprised at how quickly her students caught on and how much they loved it.
“Both elementary camp, and middle and high school camp, they’ve been asking us immediately as we’re done, ‘When are we doing this again?’ It’s been fantastic,” Dicks told MyFoxAtlanta.com.
The balls contain beads so that when they bounce, they make noise, enabling campers to hear when the ball is close by to signal their swing.
“All I have to do is listen to the sound of the rattle, and if I hear it coming towards me, then that’s when I swing and try and hit it,” Ariel McDaniel, a 14-year-old camper, told the news station.
Marty Rudder, father to 7-year-old camper Aiden Rudder, said watching his son being able to play tennis “just warms your heart.”
“As a parent, I’ll do everything that I can to try and leave this available to him because you don’t ever know— he could end up being in the Special Olympics at some point,” Marty Rudder told MyFoxAtlanta.com.
Dange said she is already setting her sights on the Paralympic Games.
“It just makes me so happy that kids that thought they couldn’t do this— they can,” she said. “And anything is possible, and that’s just the greatest thing for me to see, that they’re doing the impossible.”