By Mark Hallum
Up to 770 Far Rockaway public school students learned timely lessons on choosing paths leading them away from gun violence through tennis lessons at Flushing Meadows Corona Park last week.
Hosted by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and the United States Tennis Association last Friday, the “Say Yes to Tennis – No to Violence” event is in its 21st year and saw students from eight schools across the borough learn about the sport at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the largest in the nation.
“For over two decades, our challenge and goal has been to provide the youth of Far Rockaway with a positive alternative to the deadly culture of gun violence, which permeates their lives on an almost daily basis,” Brown said. “Our message is a simple one: to teach them that tennis, aside from being a great sport, can teach them important lessons for the game of life. Learning now the principles of fair play and self-control on a tennis court may very well keep them from later on becoming one of life’s casualties in a court of law.”
Brown said the event helps to foster a healthy self-image in youth while teaching them integrity through the sport, which draws thousands to Queens on a yearly basis for the US Open and other tournaments.
“My fervent hope is that they have benefitted from the experience and that the life lessons they have learned – such as fair play and self-esteem – will have a positive effect on their daily lives,” Brown concluded.
The event at the USTA National Tennis Center is part of the year-round STAR Track anti-violence program from the DA in which staff from Brown’s office, as well as the New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office and the Legal Aid Society, visit schools to discuss the harmful effects of gun violence, drugs and gangs to discourage youth from engaging in crime.
Students at the event were from Public Schools 43, 104, 106, 197 and 333, Village Academy, Queens High School for Information Research and Technology and the Academy of Medical Technology, Middle and High School
The USTA, a non-profit with over 700,000 members, organizes the US Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park every year in September and it is one of the largest annually attended sporting events in the world, according to the DA’s office.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall