As an organization dedicated to learning and providing ongoing health and wellness opportunities for our Athletes, Buddy Up Tennis is grateful for the support and partnership of many organizations in our communities. This fall, partnerships allowed us to reach our Athletes, Buddies, and communities in new and innovative ways. Our latest program, Buddy Up Connections, is a friendship-building program that paved the way for new and strengthened partnerships with three spotlighted partners: Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, the Improvaneers based out of Akron, OH, and the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

From sponsoring the annual benefit gala to providing education to Columbus families on nutrition, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been a longtime partner (since 2015) of Buddy Up Tennis. Nationwide recently launched the On Our Sleeves® initiative, a “movement to transform children’s mental health.” On Our Sleeves has created a wealth of resources, tools, and fun activities to help children and families understand mental health. 

With over 300 Athletes and Buddies from around the country participating in the Buddy Up Connections Program this Fall, Buddy Up Tennis and On Our Sleeves teamed up to equip the Connections with resources that help teach unique ways to discuss and express gratitude. On Our Sleeves provided Athletes and Buddies with a gratitude discussion guide, cards they could create for loved ones, and a mentally fit challenge. Check out this video of our Athletes and Buddies sharing their gratitude!

We are grateful to partner with Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which holds a wealth of knowledge and is willing to share education across our national Buddy Up Tennis community. In addition to working more closely with the On Our Sleeves Initiative, we have developed a partnership with the Center for Family Safety and Healing, whose existing training courses are adapted for our Athletes, Buddies, and families. We are excited to share that these courses will be launching in the Winter of 2021 for existing Buddy Up Tennis families! Through partnerships with institutions such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we can impact our families’ lives in a holistic manner that focuses on physical and mental health and wellness.

Buddy Up Connections sharing how they are growing their gratitude after completing activities from the On Our Sleeves Initiative by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Improvaneer Method

At Buddy Up Tennis, we are constantly searching for new and exciting opportunities for our Athletes. This Fall, we partnered with one such organization, the Improvaneer Method, a “program that teaches improvisation to individuals with developmental disabilities.” The Founder of the Improvaneer Method, Rob Snow, is a Buddy Up Tennis Akron Athlete parent who has been sharing his program with Down syndrome organizations nationwide. 

The new “Taste of Improv” classes that Buddy Up Tennis and the Improvaneer Method held followed the virtual format. Athletes and Buddies worked together for an hour on improvisation skills such as thinking fast and solving problems quickly. There was plenty of laughing, learning, and, of course, friendship throughout the three classes that were held and led by Lead Trainer and Director Maggie Bisesi. 

Through partnerships with organizations such as the Improvaneer Method, Buddy Up Tennis continues to foster exploration of interests and activities among our Athletes. This supports the goal of enabling our Athletes to live meaningful and well-rounded lives. 

Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan 

Since 2014, the Buddy Up Tennis Grand Rapids chapter has been a leading one in the Buddy Up Tennis community, in part due to a strong relationship with the immensely passionate and committed local Down syndrome association, the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM). Although the program shifted from on court to off-court, their dedication this fall was no different. The team from the DSAWM embraced the Buddy Up Connections program and worked tirelessly in partnership with the Buddy Up Tennis National Office to foster friendships among the Grand Rapids Athletes and Buddies. 

In particular, the DSAWM Program Director Nate Clark continues to be one of our most involved partners. When we are on the courts, Nate is at nearly every Buddy Up Tennis clinic, and when we held Buddy Up Summer Camp in Grand Rapids in 2019, Nate jumped in each day to play tennis, set up activities, and have a general blast with the Athletes and Buddies. This fall, during the Buddy Up Connections Program, Nate and DSAWM Intern Toni Masullo worked tirelessly to ensure meaningful connections were made. Toni even served as a Buddy, and together with local Athlete Eric, the duo played tennis, worked out, and painted pumpkins!

Partnering Down syndrome associations and communities are integral to the impact that Buddy Up Tennis seeks to have on all individuals with Down syndrome. Nate and the DSAWM team serve as models for how we can unite through partnerships to best serve our communities. 

DSAWM Intern and Buddy Up Connections Buddy Toni and Athlete Eric.