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Recycle, Renew, Replay

December 11, 2008 04:31 PM

By Tori Townsend

Have you ever wondered where used, worn-out or damaged tennis racquets go?  Some take racquets to Goodwill, others hang it on the wall as art, and then there are those solemn racquets that end up collecting cobwebs in the corner that end up in the garbage.  While newer racquets are somewhat biodegradable thanks to innovative technologies from manufacturers like Wilson, most racquets are not eco-friendly and simply end up in a landfill polluting the earth.  Moreover, what may seem like an old, worn-out or useless piece of equipment to some is seen by others as something that can be recycled, renewed and reused.

That is exactly why a group of junior tournament players from South Florida run an organization to recycle new and used tennis rackets and distribute them to those in need.   Founding members Alexander Aguiar and Luke Habig along with enlisted members Bianca Sanon and Jesse Feder serve Kids Serving Kids, a foundation dedicated to collecting new and used tennis rackets with a goal to restore and deliver them to kids who could not otherwise play tennis because of high equipment cost.

Through 30 bright green collection bins placed at tennis facilities in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties so far, more than 500 tennis racquets have been collected since the organization’s origin in 2007.  The Florida-based organization is dedicated to having chapters throughout the state.   To grow, there needs to be more awareness of Kids Serving Kids so that more racquets don’t end up unused and in landfills.

 “This is meant to be a program that is generational and handed over to the next generation of kids,” said Danielle Aguiar, mother of Alexander Aguiar.   “There is so much room for growth; every city in Florida could have a chapter.  Image that.  Imagine that.”

Right now, Kids Serving Kids has an inventory of tennis racquets and they need to know who needs them and how can they fill the need.  The foundation partnered with Pro Tennis, an organization that identifies at-risk kids, takes them out of their environment and brings them into the discipline of tennis, while incorporating an element of academics.  Together, deliveries have already been made to Guadalajara, Mexico, Carter Park in Sunrise, Wolf Park at Everlasting Love Tennis in Lauderhill, and other local spots. 

“The racquets the kids receive have been used, and most would think the racquet has had its life, but it hasn’t!” said Danielle, who mentioned that Club Med sponsored Kids Serving Kids and paid for the entire shipment, including customs, to Guadalajara.  “Once you see these kids playing with the racquets, it is very rewarding.  There are a lot of kids that want to play, but just can’t.”

Coach Jose Ayala, who teaches at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation and is from Guadalajara, jumpstarted the kids to take action last year after 17-year-old Alex Aguiar mishandled his equipment on the court after getting overly frustrated – a feeling we can all relate to. 

Ayala said, “You just don’t realize the value of your equipment, you think that these things come easy. 

You ought to see some kids who are just dying to play and they can’t because they don’t have a racquet.”  A reality check is all the kids needed to get started.

The money to start Kids Serving Kids was started by the boys’ own savings totaling $1,006 to create the website, buy bins and banners and print business cards.  Luke Habig also invested funds for the printing of the brochures, additional bins, supplies for the City of Plantation’s “Green Day” fundraiser and information pouches. Although Danielle supervises, she assures it’s the kids’ foundation and they do the work.

Since the foundation was created by junior tennis players, juniors have to get involved in order for Kids Serving Kids to carry on.  The most recent Florida junior player to sign on board is Michael Holtmann (9) who, with the help of his mother, started a chapter in Miami.

“What better community service program than for junior tennis players to open a chapter in their area,” Danielle said. “They are expanding the sport that they love and helping a community go green.”

 If you are interested in donating tennis racquets, please visit www.kidsservingkids.com to find locations of drop-off sites in your area.  If there aren’t any locations, and you would like to have a bright green recycling bin at your tennis facility or start a Kids Serving Kids chapter, please contact Danielle Aguiar at (954) 290-4646.

 

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