Helping an inclusive tennis club become leaders in disabled tennis

1 November 2022

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Get Set 4 Tennis (GS4T) is a Hertfordshire-based tennis academy dedicated to providing tennis education to all, regardless of age, means, background or ability. Established in 2018 by two tennis professionals, Jon and Lisa Wildman, they set out to meet the needs of their community, recognising that it lacked inclusive sports programmes owing to cuts and, later, the exacerbating force of the pandemic. A not-for-profit organisation, they specialise in tennis for disabled children and children with special educational needs (SEND). The Symondson Foundation is delighted to play a part in helping them become the first disability academy in the UK, by supporting their core costs on a multi-year basis. 

GS4T work thoughtfully to ensure their programmes are accessible to those who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience the many enriching benefits of playing tennis. As well as providing free (alongside of paid-for) tennis programmes on their two club sites, they partner with schools that have a particular need, offering out-reach programmes during term-time, and holiday programmes, such as their Happy Camp for Children, which is for families with a low income. Their ‘Career Pathway and Mental Health Project’ offered 32 SEND children the chance to learn to be tennis coaches, creating opportunities to earn (paid or voluntary) work at local sports clubs. All the 2022 cohort completed the course, and were offered placements in local tennis clubs to further their work. 

The pathway tennis opportunity given to Shaftesbury students has developed a number of skills that are important on a young person’s journey through life.’ – Form Tutor at partner school, Shaftesbury School

As well as the obvious benefit to health and physical wellbeing, GS4T builds crucial skills through their carefully designed, inclusive programmes, raising up young people with complex needs, and building self-esteem. Harnessing the power of teamwork and working for a common goal, players’ communication skills are enhanced, and peer-to-peer social interactions are bolstered. Though still a relatively young organisation, the transformative support GS4T provides has been recognised with multiple awards, including the Regional Disability Programme of the Year Award for London and the South-West (2020), and Disability Award for Middlesex (2022). Investing in infrastructure, including a wheelchair pathway, portable floodlights, transportation, and shipping container clubhouses, they ensure their 950 strong, regular students have all-year-round access to their thriving community. 

We are inspired by the equitable opportunity GS4T creates and the many ways they go above and beyond to enrich the lives of their growing community, and we support them in becoming a beacon and site of excellence for SEND tennis. 

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