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13.07.2004 Diaspora News

North Park man helps keep kids out of trouble

By UNION-TRIBUNE
North Park man helps keep kids out of trouble
.... with sports and learning San Diego, July 13, Union-tribune -- After Fred Aryee lost his right hand, with his left hand he began batting tennis balls against a wall at the North Park Recreation Center. His practice made him a good tennis player. It made him a better citizen. While he was batting those balls, Aryee said he became aware that by offering children in the neighborhood ice cream, drug dealers were getting the children to deliver drugs for them. "Drug problems, shootings, fighting, all kinds of stuff was going on," said Aryee. "As a parent, I was hurt to see the little kids involved, so I decided to do something."
Aryee, 52, a native of Ghana who had taken up residence in North Park after he lost his right hand in an accident in the western Pacific while serving as an engineer on a tuna boat, advised the police, whose presence eliminated the drug dealers. At the same time, in 1986 he began offering free tennis classes for children at the three-court facility where the late Maureen Connolly Brinker learned the game.
During his classes, Aryee found that many of the young people he was instructing had reading problems. "What I realized is that when they get to the ninth or 10th grade, the kids in this neighborhood quit right there," he said. "The difficulty is that they cannot comprehend writing, so things become difficult as they move up the ladder, and they quit."
Aryee determined to teach more than tennis. He would organize a tutoring program in which the subjects would be math, reading, writing and poetry. To do this, he had to have a classroom. At first, he said, the Rev. George Walker Smith made a church in Golden Hill available. Recently, he rented a dwelling across the street from the North Park courts, but the rent, he said, is $1,300 a month and the sum has become burdensome. Aryee is hopeful of gaining sponsors. "To start with, $10,000 would be fine," he said. "So I can reach more kids," he explained.
Aryee has gained non-profit status for his program, which he calls Global Youth Development. This enables persons who would donate to his program to write off their contributions for tax purposes.
As Aryee's program is structured, those in his classes are on the courts Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays, they are in the classroom. "Keeping them busy during the critical hours is the main key," Aryee said of the youths he has attracted to tennis. "I talk to them and tell them how healthy it is to play. I get them interested. Motor skills, coordination, obesity, tennis solves all those problems."
Fred Aryee would seem to be solving some problems himself.


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