Doug Peterson is an avid tennis player, and it shows on the court. “Tennis is really fun,” he says. “It’s good exercise.” Doug, who has Downs Syndrome, has been participating in the Ann Arbor CIL’s tennis program for four years. He had never played tennis before participating in the program, and now he’s quite skilled.
“Doug and his tennis show people not to underestimate people with disabilities. He shows the world around him to recognize abilities, not disabilities.”
“The CIL’s Sports and Rec Programs have made a definite and positive impact on Doug,” Jane Peterson, Doug’s mother, says. “Doug has gained both skills and friends that have carried on beyond the CIL. The skills have given him confidence he didn’t have before, and he now plays all the time with friends or family. He and his dad play almost every weekend.”
Doug, 32, has always had a love of being physically active, and throughout his lifetime sports have provided a way for him to connect with others. In high school, Doug was invited to swim with the varsity swim team after the coach saw him swimming at a local club. After high school, though, Doug had a hard time finding activities and making friends. “A lot of things have come into play to make Doug’s life better, and the CIL is one of them,” Jane says.
Jane added that the CIL’s tennis program has provided an important social context for Doug. “At the CIL, Doug is among peers,” she says. “It is one of the few places where he can feel successful, and that means a lot to him. When the tennis sessions aren’t on, he asks about them all the time.”
She also says the program has benefited their whole family. “Since Doug has become skilled in tennis, his sisters see him in a context of ability, not disability. We play tennis as a family now, and it’s an activity where he participates as an equal.”
Doug volunteers at Sunrise Assisted Living and works three days a week with a supported employment program. “He now has a full and active life, and the CIL is part of that. He has hobbies, work, friends, and family,” Jane said. In addition to tennis, Doug has been involved in bicycling, walking, yoga, and game nights at the CIL.