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City of Tallahassee starts up 'Love Serving Autism' tennis program

Posted: 6:17 PM, Jan 17, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-17 18:17:08-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Children with autism will soon have a new way to build social skills while getting active.

The City of Tallahassee is starting a new tennis program for children with autism.

"It makes me happy seeing that more people are putting themselves out there to include any children with this diagnosis," said Kimberly Ledford.

It's a breakthrough Kimberly Ledford has been waiting for: A city of Tallahassee tennis program dedicated to helping children who have autism.

"For them to have something to do, build social skills and play as a team, and work with each other ... it's very important," said Ledford.

Ledford's daughter is 17 years old. As a mom, it's been her mission to make sure her daughter, Jordan, gets the chance to experience life just the way any other teenager would.

"We need to have more acceptance and more inclusion but also education is part of it," Ledford explained. "It's nothing to be afraid of. It's not contagious. it's not going to hurt anybody"

The tennis program is for people ages 5 to 17.

Glen Howe, the tennis superintendent for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, has worked to get this program up and running for months. He took on the project when he saw how big the need was in the community.

"As I looked around and talked to parents, I saw there's a number of children who have children with autism. So I put it out in Rec 1 and went through the City of Tallahassee Park and Recreation Neighborhood Affairs and I have 35 children signed up to start with," Howe said.

The program will last for six weeks and will help teach a total of four children at a time.

"We want them to say 'Mom, I want to come back' or 'Dad, I want to come back ... that was a really fun,'" Howe explained.

Classes will start Saturday at 10 a.m. at Forestmeadows, then at 12 p.m. at Walker Ford.

The classes are free. To sign up, click here or contact Glen Howe at 850-891-4979 (Glen.Howe@talgov.com).