Thursday, January 5, 2017

Pickleball tournament raises funds and awareness for mental health efforts

Published January 5, 2017 -

On Saturday, January 7, the Gateway YWCA at 1300 S. Main St. (in Winston-Salem, NC) will hold a pickleball tournament to raise funds for the Mental Health Peer Support Center.

The sport of pickleball is not as popular as other sports – yet. It started in the Seattle, Washington, area in the 1970s. It is currently one of the fastest growing sports not only in North Carolina but in America. The game is similar in style to ping-pong and tennis.

The pickleball program started at the Gateway YWCA several years ago has expanded to providing play five days a week with as many as 50 players participating at a given time. Although mostly-popular with seniors age 50 and older, there are more younger people participating.

The Mental Health Peer Support Center is a place for people who are living and coping with a mental health struggle to be together with other like-minded individuals. Event coordinator Michele Todd Davis says because of her work with Green Tree mental health facilities along with personal experiences, this cause became a passion for her.

“I wanted to find out how to go about reaching the community to address the fact that it does exist because I think a lot of people deal with it but don’t deal with it,” said Todd Davis. “They have experiences with it but don’t know what they are going through.”

She says her working with Laurie Coker, who is the head of peer support for Green Tree, led to the birth of the tournament to help fund their facility. Her introduction to pickleball came as she went to attend a bootcamp style workout. Because the bootcamp was not there, she spotted people playing pickleball and wanted to find out more about the game. She said as soon as she put the paddle in her hand, the game became an “addiction” for her.

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