BrightSTARS -- Tennis for Me!
BrightSTARS -- Tennis for Me! (TFM) is a tennis and nutrition immersion format specifically created for four-year-olds who participate in the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), a state-supported program for disadvantaged and at-risk kids in preK classes in public elementary schools and standalone public preschools. Statewide more than 17,000 kids particpate. In Albemarle County, our home base, VPI classes are called "Bright Stars," so we "borrowed" the name and adapted it as BrightSTARS.
Debbie Shelor, a Pre-K teacher at Greer Elementary, knew about the work we do with older kids at Greer and the pilot we had run a few years back with Head Start. She asked if we would like to work with her students, and we jumped at the opportunity to combine tennis instruction and our Go Bananas for QuickStart! campaign. BrightSTARS - Tennis for Me! is the result.
Year One -- The initial pilot at Greer Elementary took place during the spring of 2015. Two VPI classsrooms with a total of 34 students received kid-sized equipment and the kids received limited tennis instruction to see how they would like. Well, they LOVED it! We held four classroom sessions, participated in 2015 Field Day and were asked to return for Jump Start Summer Camp in July which prepares Bright Stars for the transition to kindergarten. At the same time, Tenns Coach and preschool parent Erin Lake started working with kids at Buckingham PreSchool.
Year Two -- A second year of the pilot started with the 2015/2016 school year for 36 BrightSTARS at Greer. This second year was expanded to have 10 food-themed classroom sessions and used to create formal lesson plans. We documented the TFM approach -- 10 sessions spread over five months during the school year -- so that all eight Bright Stars schools in Albemarle County would be able to incorporate TFM in the future. TFM could be easily replicated, and ultimately reach all 180 Bright Stars in 11 classrooms in all seven schools in Albemarle County alone. All we need is enthusiastic classroom teachers, kid-sized equipment and a few volunteers -- local tennis players, parents or early childhood education majors at community colleges -- and funding to buy equipment.
Year Three -- When we expanded our Service Area to include four more counties in southside Virginia, we had the opportunity to expand BrightSTARS as well. The BrightSTARS -- Tennis for Me! format is now being used at Grove Park Preschool in Danville (96 kids), Clearview Early Childhood Center in Martinsville (64 kids), Buckingham Preschool in Buckingham County (108 kids) and we're doing a third year at Greer (36 kids). Patrick Springs Primary (40 kids) and Meadows of Dan Elementary (10 kids) schools in Patrick County started in spring 2017. BrightSTARS at Cale ES in Allbemarle County (54 kids) kicked off in April 2017. Plans are also in the works for BrightSTARS at Northside Preschool in Danville (90 kids).
Exciting News (July 2017) -- We have been approved for a grant from the Party Parade Fund that will make it possible for us to start three new programs at schools in Albemarle County this school year.
Combining the FUN of QuickStart Tennis and our innovative Go Bananas for QuickStart! campaign helps combat childhood obesity and physical inactivity in kids, especially those who are disadvantaged and are the most susceptible to being or becoming overweight or obese. The sooner we get to kids, the better!
Want to be a great adult? Be a BrightSTARS kid!
If you're interested in starting BrightSTARS at your school, please contact us at:
Take a look at our 10-session format, check out our detailed lesson plans and then let us know how we can tailor BrightSTARS to suit your school.