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Pickleball is Not Just for Seniors – Kids Love it Too! 

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Kids ages six-17 make up 21.2% of the pickleball players in the US. And the average age of all players has dropped to 35.

The Xcel Foundation, an Encino-based non-profit charity, realized the many benefits of having kids playing pickleball so they contacted the Boys & Girls Club West Valley to see if they were interested in the kids learning the sport.  

It turns out that the CEO of the Boys &  Girls Club West Valley, Geovanny Ragsdale, was a big fan of pickleball and loved the idea of integrating pickleball into the teens’ services.  So, they started teaching the teens pickleball in their gym and on their outdoor basketball court once a week for the last two months.  The kids loved it so much that they now play on real courts at the Warner Center Pickleball Center just down the street from the club.

It is so exciting to see the smiles the kids have playing pickleball.  For most, it is the first time they have played any racquet sport so hand-eye coordination was a challenge but most have overcome this and love playing.  They found pickleball easy to learn, and different in that they have to strategize unusual scenarios. Pickleball allows them to compete, keeps them physically active, socializing more and making new friends, has health benefits and best of all it is just FUN!

One of the Xcel Foundation’s programs is a “Friend for a Day” program which is like a mini version of the Big Brother, Big Sister program, where they match a child with an adult and have a day of fun doing all kinds of different fun activities.  The idea is to help mentor and create a positive role model for these kids.  The adult volunteers are called Xcelerators.  

Along the same lines of the “Friend for a Day” program, Jeff Shulem, the Xcel Foundation’s Chairman, came up with the idea of having a pickleball tournament where they match an adult with a child and play against other “mixed ages” teams.  

The first annual tournament will be held on November 28 at 4 pm at the Warner Center Pickleball Center located 6336 Canoga Ave., 7th Floor of the parking structure in Woodland Hills.

If you would like to volunteer as an Xcelerator or make a much appreciated donation to the Xcel Foundation to continue the pickleball program, please go  to XcelFoundation.org  Your donation is tax deductible.   


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