In 2003, the dream for a safe haven for children became a reality with the opening of the Althea Gibson Community Education and Tennis Center. It is under the nonprofit management of Community Education and Sports Services (CESS). The center's mission is to promote sound minds and bodies for children ages 5 - 17 living in the area bounded by Spring Garden Steet, Cecil B. Moore Avenue, 6th Street, and Broad Street in Philadelphia.
This year round facility is built on one acre of land donated by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia. The 21,080 square feet center consists of two indoor tennis courts, three lighted outdoor courts, a secured parking lot, and 3,800 square feet of space dedicated to youth educational programs.
The center regularly introduces low-income children and their families to tennis, not only as a form of exercies, but also as a form of positive youth engagement in a social, recreational, and cultrual experience. Our overall goal is to improve the health, wellness, and educational outcomes of our targeted low-income community of primarily African American youth and families by using tennis, which is a non-traditional sport for this population, as a vehicle for a healthy lifestyle. As such, we need to promote tennis as a viable sport for re-mediating poor health habits and addressing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension among our African American constituents.