When more than 2,000 entrants meet up at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at 10 a.m. on May 25 to compete in the Association of Pickleball Professionals‘ (APP) inaugural New York City Open, 24 health educators from The Floating Hospital will be on hand to learn the game and try to teach it to the less fortunate kids they help. The educators hope it will help make a difference in the children’s lives. The health educators will be guided by kinesiologist and 2019 U.S. Open pickleball champion Dr. Rommie Maxey.
The APP New York City Open session will kick off with an ongoing training program enabling health educators to teach pickleball at The Floating Hospital’s Camp Rise Up for homeless youth this August. Camp Rise Up provides immersive health-education intervention and offers youths living with homelessness a safe space to learn about life. Pickleball will be added to the roster of confidence and team-building activities the campers participate in during their week away on the upstate New York campus.
Pickleball has gained in popularity across New York City in recent years. This is in large part due to many people turning to the sport as a versatile outlet for exercise and entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enthusiasts created courts in their backyards, driveways, parking lots and even living rooms. All they needed to play was a net, chalk for lines, a whiffle ball, paddles and sneakers.
“Outside of getting young people fresh food, our number one challenge is providing them with exercise options that are easy, free and fun,” The Floating Hospital’s President Sean T. Granahan said. “Pickleball can do that in a fun, communal setting. It’s something kids can do together, pretty much anywhere.”
The sport has grown enough in popularity that it now has its own magazine, InPickleball. Its issues celebrate travel and playing pickleball in wondrous destinations. It also recommends readers attend the NYC Open. InPickleball is dedicated to expanding the community and social experience around the game while also highlighting the inclusion of the game and the joy of those who play it.
“Pickleball is about the things our world needs most today — health, joy and togetherness,” InPickleball President Richard Porter said. “The game is growing wildly because it’s fun and inclusive. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy it immediately and pick up basic skills quickly. By showing these kids a simple way to better health, we can make meaningful progress toward health equity in New York.”
Founded in 1866, The Floating Hospital is one of New York City’s oldest charitable healthcare organizations focused on children. They provide related education for families, engaging children as change agents for healthier habits.
Through its signature health-education programming, kids learn the benefits of exercise and nutrition that can help them avoid health problems inherent with living in poverty. The Floating Hospital conducts outreach to 95% of the city’s family homeless shelters and domestic violence safe houses, with 38% of the clinic’s patients being children.
The Floating Hospital provides high-quality unrestricted medical, dental and mental healthcare and related education to New Yorkers regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, immigration or insurance status or ability to pay. Many of their patients live in poverty or are homeless. The flagship clinic serves 30,000 patients across the five boroughs today from its modern clinic in Long Island City.