DhhEAF (Deaf & Hard of Hearing Educational Athletic Foundation) is an innovative, qualified, non-profit program which teaches life's lessons to hearing impaired youth through tennis in Southern California. We focus on providing this underserved population an opportunity to learn and practice a life-long physical activity in a pro-social environment.
Primarily because of communication issues (or lack of interpretation) please consider that a Deaf child's world is extremely isolated and that there may be limitations on their extracurricular choices. No bells, whistles, or playing calling makes tennis a perfect game for the DHH. However, especially since most of our students are from lower socio-economic areas, the DhhEAF Program is the only way many of our students will ever be exposed to tennis, let alone, receive professional instruction.
Spearheading the DhhEAF Program are Roy Trafalski and Tom Baxted. They are positive role-models with a unique blend of elite-coaching and playing experience, business acumen, and professionalism. Tom has had over 20 years of experience in Finance at Boeing in Long Beach & was one of the top Deaf players in the U.S. who represented our country in the 1977 & 1981Deaflympics. Roy is a former university coach/teaching pro, nationally ranked senior tournament player, and Coach of the 2005 USA Deaflympic Tennis Team where competition was held in Melbourne, Australia. There are few individuals who possess their unique combination of skills to nurture this special needs population. Roy volunteers as the Deaf specialist on the USTA's Adaptive Tennis Committee and can confirm that we are the only program of its kind in the USA.
Since 1/03, DhhEAF has reached over 1800 hearing impaired students in Southern California by emphasizing the balance between education & activity, inclusion, and fitness & health in a weekly introductory schools program. Most of our students are ethnic minorities from the lower socio-economic strata. It's explained to the students that participation in the DhhEAF Program is to be treated like a scholarship: Students are to maintain attention to education AND good behavior. DhhEAF's goals include affecting academic improvements, self-esteem enhancement, and good citizenship qualities so that DHH youth will become better students, leaders and upstanding individuals. Our program is free and equipment is provided at no charge. We reach about 200 DHH students / year. We have enough positive experience to validate our plan to reach additional DHH students. Hopefully, someday our Program can be available to every DHH student in the country.
In our DhhEAF classes, hearing aids and cochlear implants are the norm rather than the uncomfortable exception. And tennis is an equalizer. The students take note that everyone has similar skill-set challenges in learning to play tennis. With guidance, they realize the satisfaction of learning and gain self-confidence with improvement. As supported by information from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living Research Project, we also believe that tennis can create better students: Enhances concentration, emphasizes the balance between physical & mental health, necessitates critical thinking / problem solving, and builds character. Please find Letters of Endorsement on our website from teachers as well as students.
Short term, we will impact mental, emotional, physical health by promoting thinking, learning & activity. Because the rules of tennis are universal, the game can foster friendship and inclusion for our young charges anywhere they live for the rest of their lives. To that end, the benefits of life-long play (obesity, diabetes, etc.), and an endless network of inclusive friendships will take longer to evaluate.
We are dependent upon the generosity of donors as well as the grant-making foundations that support us. Over the years, the USTA Tennis & Eucation Foundation as well as USTA Serves have honored us with grants. We also applaud our other sources of support which can be viewed on our website www.dhheaf.org
under our Hall of Fame.