Volunteering ace

Sophomore Brock Ferrari volunteers with Buddy Up tennis program to benefit kids with Down syndrome


photo by Samantha Vincent

Ferrari coaches one of the kids he works with in the Buddy Up tennis program.

Samantha Vincent, Journalism I

Reaching for the fence to regain his balance, sophomore Brock Ferrari cannot help but laugh as he absorbs one of his buddy Kathrine’s smile-inducing hugs.  Even though her appearance reveals the struggle she faces with Down syndrome, her hugs reveal a kind heart.  And Ferrari cannot help but love her.

“She’s very sweet, and each time I go I can’t wait to work with her,” Ferrari said.

To get his volunteer hours early, Ferrari volunteers an hour of his Saturdays each week with Buddy Up tennis at Red Bug Lake Park, teaching young kids with Down syndrome the basics of tennis.

“We go through various tennis exercises like line drills or play duck duck goose, which gives the kids a chance to be outside and involved,” Ferrari said.

Social development for young kids with special needs is especially critical, and it helps them to integrate better into society when they get older.  Buddy Up tennis allows the kids a hands-on activity that helps them engage in both a physical and social event.

Surrounded by the positive atmosphere, the benefits of Buddy Up tennis can often translate into the lives of the student coaches as well.

Most of the students are approached by the Buddy Up tennis coordinators during their annual junior training tennis, also at the park, and asked to participate with the kids.  For Ferrari, this opportunity exposed him to the Down syndrome community, as well as a unique way to volunteer.

“I would love to work more with special needs kids, Buddy Up tennis is just my first experience working with them,” said Ferrari.

With 50 kids and buddies each Saturday, the Buddy Up Tennis program is growing positively. As their season comes to a close, they will end with one last party to celebrate their accomplishments.

By the time students reach those last days of May, over 100 hours of volunteering are behind them.  Most of the minutes blur together, regarded as solely a graduation requirement.  But some time given by students can make a lasting impact on the community, affecting those around them even after they have left for college.

“I really enjoy playing tennis and serving the community, and it makes it even better that I’m making a difference,” Ferrari said.