It’s easy to take for granted, but sometimes a little fresh air can go a long way in a child’s life. The aptly named Fresh Air Fund understands this as well as anyone, which is why it has devoted countless hours to providing underprivileged kids from New York City a chance to participate in a slew of outdoor activities right here on Long Island. The fund’s latest activity, Tennis 4 All, was organized by Syosset High School student Bradley Greenberg, who will enter his senior year in the fall.
“We’re introducing them to tennis because a lot of them have never seen a racquet or a court before,” said Greenberg. “So not only does it teach them about tennis and about a sport they’ve never learned, [it teaches] interpersonal skills, teamwork and values that they might not have learned.”
“I think it’s really important to keep everyone engaged and involved, and I think that’s the aim of these two hours—to give these people the opportunity to express themselves in an athletic way,” added Greenberg’s friend Arjun Saluja, who helped out on the day of the event. “I would take any opportunity to help others, and Bradley gave me a great opportunity to help out.”
The two-hour event was held at the Syosset High School tennis courts, and featured a small but enthusiastic group of seven kids, all of whom have been taken in by a host family on Long Island for the week. Greenberg and Saluja collaborated on a schedule of activities that were geared towards teaching the fundamentals of tennis while also providing a fun, rewarding and welcoming environment. After a brief warmup, kids were shown how to properly grip their racquets and practiced their accuracy by aiming their shots at cones, each of which hid a candy reward underneath.
“We just kind of thought about what they would like to do,” Greenberg said. “We would go over baseline, service line, what all those terms are—just keep things light and airy.”
“They were all very excited,” added Garden City resident Jennifer Debler, who is hosting two kids through the Fresh Air Fund this summer. “Brad is making it so fun because he’s got challenges like candy under the cones.”
Forthcoming on the Fresh Air Fund’s itinerary is a trip to Adventureland and a day at White Post Farms. Debler said that their hope is to expose kids to as many “firsts” as possible.
“We have such beautiful beaches and pools and parks [on Long Island], and they just love doing the simple things outside. We consider it a cultural exchange,” Debler said. “We’re giving them a lot of firsts—first time with the boogie board, first time fishing, first time with a campfire and s’mores out in the backyard. It’s a fun-loving culture, very open, valuing diversity, learning about each other’s lives and sharing good times outside.”