At the 2020 Gala, “Something EXTRAordinary,” Buddy Up Tennis revealed the “Buddy Up For Life Program,” which combines our Buddy Up Tennis philosophy, high expectation environment, and the knowledge and skills of field experts to teach independence and life skills to our Athletes as early as age 14. We used this summer as an opportunity to pilot two exciting new Buddy Up for Life classes: Communication for Life, and Cooking for Life. For each class, we partnered with the experts to create and test our new Buddy Up For Life curriculums.

The “Cooking for Life” class equips our Athletes with the skills to cook independently. In partnership with the New Albany Food Pantry and Chef Eileen Pewitt, our Athletes learned the fundamentals of the kitchen, including general safety, cutting and knife skills, measuring, reading and following recipes, boiling, steaming, and so much more! Chef Eileen challenged each of our Athletes to build their own cooking foundation, enabling them to be confident in the kitchen, at home, and in the community. Each class included an opportunity for our Athletes to cook a different recipe, and to practice the skills they learned. The hands-on teaching style fostered cooking-skills confidence in our Athletes. After successfully baking delicious bread, Athlete Matthew Thomas exclaimed, with amazement and pride, “We made this!” 

Another group of skills vital to independent living that Buddy Up For Life tackles is communication development. We partnered with Trysta VanDussen, a speech-language pathologist, to create and pilot “Communication for Life.” Through a progression of conversation skills beginning with greetings, the class’s engaging format involved peers and taught our Athletes the communication skills that are essential in the workplace, at school, and with friends and family. As with all Buddy Up Tennis programming, the skills taught in Communication for Life are easily transferable to everyday life. Will Gibson, founding Athlete, took the class this summer, and his mom Beth shared, “It was amazing to see my son, Will, at the age of 15, use his ‘People File,’ a communication skill in his everyday conversation with friends and family.”

From cooking to conversation, we are bringing our successful Buddy Up Tennis environment to all areas of life to guide our Athletes on their paths to becoming productive members of society. We are thrilled to expand Buddy Up for Life, and to help ensure that each of our Athletes has the opportunity to live a meaningful, confident and independent life. 

A huge thank you to Philanthropitch Columbus for helping us get the ball rolling and launch these wonderful programs. We were selected as one of seven non-profits to pitch during the Columbus event.  Read more about Philanthropitch Columbus HERE.