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Advantage Cleveland: Where tennis and poetry meet to create bright futures

Located in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, 2022 marks the camp's 13th summer in operation.

CLEVELAND — Advantage Cleveland is a summer tennis camp known for providing a myriad of programs for young people every summer, but executive Director Liz Deegan says their work extends far beyond the court.

"[Our campers] participate in five different components a day, and they rotate through tennis and fitness," Deegan told us. "They have poetry, they have literacy, wellness, and STEM."

Spoken word poetry is taught by lead instructor and programming director KellI Price, who says the class helps give many campers a needed outlet.

"Some of the things that I teach in my class are fear and perspective and change," she explained. "Things that our students don't get from from the outside world—sometimes not even from their families, their parents. Our students are dealing with adult problems on a day-to-day basis, and that trauma follows them everywhere.

"These children are trying to find an outlet, so in slam poetry we give them the proper outlet so they can take that anger, they can take that pain. and make something beautiful out of it."

Located in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, 2022 marks the camp's 13th summer in operation. As Director Charles Williams puts it, although this is a tennis camp, the poetry course also makes a lasting impression on the kids.

"Public speaking is probably one of the toughest things to do," Williams said. "We have kids performing in front of parents, in front of other students. We're talking about kids who first come into the camp shy, but leave here verbalizing their emotions and feelings."

Twice a summer, the camp even holds a poetry showcase, bringing in outside judges to listen as the campers perform.

"A lot of these topics are brand new to them," Price said, "so giving them an opportunity not just to talk about them, but giving them an opportunity to learn how to engage in situations and find new perspectives from other people, it's been a huge part of why I continue to do what I do."

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