In its fourth year, the "Teens Teach Tennis" program has helped numerous underprivileged children in one local community.
The brainchild of Augusta Preparatory Day School senior Chelsea Whitehurst and classmate Josh Segura, Teens Teach Tennis reaches out to children residing in a low-income neighborhood of Aiken, S.C., with the intent of teaching the children tennis skills.
"John and I both played tennis and we were bouncing back ideas of things we could do to give back to the community," said Chelsea, remembering the time during her freshman year when Teens Teach Tennis was just an idea. "John's mom works with the city of Aiken and she referred us to parks and recreation."
From that phone call, a park was designated as the home of Teens Teach Tennis and the program took off.
"During the summer, we do the lessons twice a week during the morning," said Chelsea. "The length of the lessons is typically two hours."
Chelsea recently won one of two state Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored annually by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and other entities.
"The awards program is part of a broad initiative created by Prudential Financial to encourage young people to become involved in community service," according to a press release from Prudential Financial.
All middle and high schools in the U.S., along with various other organizations like the Girl Scouts and 4-H, are eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. This year, more than 4,500 students were nominated for the honors.
Chelsea attributes her parents and school to instilling a sense of community in her.
"It's an important part of what is taught," said Chelsea. "We are taught that we are pretty lucky and not as many people are as fortunate as we are."
As far as receiving the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, Chelsea said she is honored.
"It shows that all of the hard work has been recognized and gains exposure for the program," said the daughter of Charles and Eileen Whitehurst of Aiken. "One of my former tennis coaches saw what we were doing the program and he said he was really glad that I used all these years of tennis to do something good."
Chelsea will continue working with the Teens Teach Tennis program. However, because of her college commitments, she will likely hand over much of the work to her younger sister, Annie.
"She's going to help more than she did before," said Chelsea.
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