Cover Story: Summer
in New York City
The Park, and Other Things
are a multitude of ways for children (of all ages) to have major
fun in the sun in Central Park this summer. But few programs can
match the scope and imagination of the tennis and golf programs
run by the City Parks Foundation, the private, non-profit branch
of the New York City Parks and Recreation Department.
have a dual function,” stated Amy Murnick, the Foundation’s Media
Director. “We raise private funds that support programs in City
parks. And we run the tennis and golf arms of our projects ourselves—hopefully,
with some creativity and imagination.”
City Parks Youth Tennis, which started operations in 1977, has
become the largest municipally-run program of its kind in the
United States. In its fourteen years, the program has provided
free, high-quality tennis lessons to over 200,000 youths aged
provide over 10,000 kids each summer with free, weekly instruction
by tennis professionals, as well as free use of racquets and balls,”
Murnick said. “And, as kids get better, we’ve had Nike, Reebok
and other organizations sponsor an advanced Tennis Academy and
weekly tournaments.” Each year, the 25 best players are selected
to play indoors year-round. As a result, New York City has produced
the No. 1-ranked, under-14 girl player in the country for the
past two years: Shaleisha Robinson (a serious super-talent expected
to grow into a world-class player), and Palina Zarester.
original goal was just to provide access to tennis to city kids
who would otherwise be unable to afford lessons,” explained Murnick.
“Still, developing these great players has certainly been a nice
The Foundation also runs a golf project that is a mere two years
young. The JP Morgan Chase Junior Golf Camps run three-week sessions
manned by PGA-certified professionals on New York City baseball
fields. These free lessons are provided to over 2,000 kids.
high costs, accessibility is one of the main reasons why golf
has not enjoyed popularity with urban youths as other sports,”
said Mike Silverman, the Foundation’s Director. “There are, after
all, a lot more ball fields and basketball courts in the city
than golf courses. Our goal is to introduce the game to city kids
by utilizing ball fields within their easy reach.”
The golf camps teach beginners the basics in driving, pitching
and putting. Lessons also include contests, giveaways and basic
skills tests. The top 60 kids get free entry into the Foundation
Golf Academy for advanced instruction.
Thirteen year-old Malik Lewter, who never played the game before
the camp last summer, recently shot an outstanding 60 on a par-3
course. He is one kid who claims to want to keep on playing—and
maybe even become the Next Tiger Woods. “I watch a lot of golf
on TV, and I try to do what the pros do,” he said. ”I love to
watch Tiger play. But I could be the future.” #
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