We’ve had a lot going on recently, so I will try and find a place to begin. I guess as good a place to start as any is with the weekend we’ve just had, where we were joined by some members from the International Tennis Federation! Tennis I hear you say? But you support a hospital? Why would you have a tennis federation come to support you?! Well, let me explain..
One of our greatest passions here is supporting and enriching the lives of those with disabilities. For those of you who may not be aware (and if you’re not, where have you been?!) we have an inclusive sports centre connected to our rehabilitation centre, a place for our rehab patients (as well as people from the community) to come and either work with a physical therapist on specific exercises, or to come and work out, to spend time with friends, and engage in sports. Wheelchair sports are a bit of an alien concept in Haiti, where a person with a disability is seen as worthless and unable to do anything for themselves. How are they supposed to be able to compete in sports?
That’s where the International Tennis Federation comes in. They’re reason for choosing Haiti as a country to develop tennis in is two-fold; firstly, tennis is a completely bizarre concept in Haiti (the first time we put the net up we were asked whether the point of the game was to hit the ball into the net!?) and secondly, they wanted to fight against the stigma shown to people with disabilities.
Armed with equipment including rackets, tennis balls, nets and some games to help with hand eye coordination, they arrived early Saturday morning ready to introduce tennis to our rehab guys. The Haitian tennis federation also joined us and the day became an integrated session – what a joy to watch able and disabled players playing alongside each other. Seeing people’s perceptions towards those in wheelchairs change throughout the day as they saw how capable they were of playing (and playing pretty darn well!) was fantastic.
In spite of the hot weather (seriously, it’s getting way too hot nowadays..) a good crowd turned out and we hope to continue working with the tennis federation in Haiti to build up wheelchair tennis. To give our guys a chance at a new sport and to show to everyone that disability is not inability.
Here a just a few photos from the weekend for you to enjoy..