Moving the body by playing tennis and moving the soul through music is the goal of a new collaboration of the USTA/Midwest Tennis and Education Foundation (MTEF) and The Scars Foundation. Palmer Park in Detroit, MI was the place to be for the “Juneteenth Celebration of Tennis & Kids’ Tennis Tournament!” MTEF is proud to collaborate with The Scars Foundation on raising awareness of mental health through the Grace Notes Project. Mental illness is one of the hardest issues facing people today. Athletes, including the tennis community is not excluded from this, as we have recently seen across. It is our vision that we open the dialogue and reduce the stigma. No one should have to suffer in silence or feel alone, MTEFs collaboration with The Scars Foundation will complete a wholistic offering of resources as part of our total health initiative.
The Scars Foundation was established by Sully Erna and rock band Godsmack to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. With the rise of suicides, bullying, addiction, abuse and so many other challenges, The Scars Foundation is dedicated to help provide resources, tools, and to educate and empower those who struggle with these challenges. The Scars Foundation is determined to help people learn how to accept these imperfections and embrace them as their battle wounds from life, to own them, and show them off proudly to the world, rather than hide them and suffer in silence. In a few words: “We are all Imperfectly Perfect.”
Grace Notes Project
The Scars Foundation has sponsored many projects, one of which is called Grace Notes Project. The general purpose was for musicians who want to give back using their talents to offer service to “underserved, under recognized communities”. Music is virtually the only “medicine” that universally has a profound positive impact on people. MTEF reached out to the Executive Director of Scars, Naomi Fabricant, because we don’t do enough to prepare youth for dealing with their emotions or their mental wellbeing. We coach children for their bodies and education efforts for their mind, and now we must offer resources for their soul, or mental health.
This collaboration brings the idea of music, movement and open discussions to help arm youth with coping skills for better mental health. It began with Carl Schmid, who is a classically trained violinist who played at Carnegie Hall at the age of thirteen. He led the kids, playing in with a “drum circle” of orange buckets from Home Depot. This technique was paired with movement exercises for an interactive session between Carl and the drummers. Liz Dickison, the Development Director for MTEF was able to talk about the mission of the MTEF and why tennis and education are focused on providing life skills and opportunities. Elizabeth Erna, mental health coach for SCARS, held an open discussion with the children and shared tools to deal with stress and the turmoil of life’s ups and downs. The music continued, and the room was soon filled with drumbeats in harmony with soaring violin accompaniment. And to cap off the festivities, the event organizers commemorated Juneteenth, our newest National holiday.
From this weekend, you can see the culmination of tennis and music was a unique and lasting reminder that we are all imperfectly perfect! The Grace Notes Project paired with tennis is just one offering that helps youth improve physical, emotional, and mental health, and offer a place where young people help express themselves, deal with behaviors that impair their interactions with others, get them talking again. It is essential, now more than ever, that we provide opportunities for youth to engage in sport, education and mental health programming.