| By Monica Gorny
Photo credit: Avi Gerver/MSG Photos

 Helping make dreams come true for children facing life obstacles is the primary goal of the Garden of Dreams Foundation (GDF). This foundation works closely with all areas of Madison Square Garden to provide children with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Between July 6-July 12, 40 children were lucky enough to realize their aspirations by taking part in the GDF’s “Dream Week” summer program. On July 12, children from the SCO Family of Services, a partner of the GDF, were given the opportunity to tour the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and take part in a session with USTA teaching professionals to learn the basics of the tennis game.

The tour commenced with a visit to the Arthur Ashe bronze statue located just outside the center. The tour leader stressed the significance of this statue by explaining that it not only commemorates Ashe as a great tennis player, but as an inspiring humanitarian who left behind a legacy that still lives on. Following this, the tour covered much of the inside and outside areas, giving the children an idea of the size of the facility. The conclusion and the highlight of the tour came with the much-awaited visit to Arthur Ashe Stadium. This had a profound impact on the children as they realized that many of the tennis legends had played on this court. Following this, the children were led to Louis Armstrong Stadium for their own opportunity to try out the sport.

After the children received complimentary waters, hats and rackets, the USTA teaching professionals started the session off with a warm-up routine of side shuffles and knee-high skips. The purpose of this was to show the importance of an adequate warm-up to prevent injuries. The children were then fed a series of forehands and backhands, while teaching professionals corrected their grips and techniques. Activities came to an end once they had covered all of the basic tennis strokes to give everyone an overall feel for the sport.

The day’s scorching heat which bordered on 100 degrees was not enough to ruin the jubilant atmosphere amongst the children. Everyone seemed pleased with what they learned and experienced at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, thus concluding another very successful “Dream Week” for the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Credit all photos to Avi Gerver/MSG Photos