Xander’s Award Winning Essay and Trip to NYC!

We are thrilled to share that one of our 7th grade students, Xander Freeman, has won the 21st Annual NJTL Essay Contest in the Boys’ 12 and Under category. Xander’s was one of only ten essays selected out of over 2,600 entries. Xander's Winning Essay (5)This year the USTA Foundation asked students participating in National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters to answer this prompt: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of NJTL. What specific impact do you hope your chapter can make in your community today that you would want remembered 50 years from now?” Xander rose to the challenge and wrote an incredible essay highlighting the impact the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation (MWYF) has had on the Jacksonville community and what he hopes for the future of the organization and the community.Xander's Winning Essay (6)To celebrate his accomplishments, Xander was sent on a trip to New York City from August 22nd to the 25th. He was able to explore the city, see “The Lion King” on Broadway, visit 30 Rockefeller Center’s “Top of the Rock”, and have other exciting experiences throughout his visit.Xander's Winning Essay (7)The USTA Foundation hosted him as a VIP in the President’s Box at the 2019 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day celebration to kick off the US Open. He also received an honorary plaque at an awards luncheon attended by former New York City mayor the Honorable David N. Dinkins and USTA Foundation Past President Pam Shriver.

MWYF is appreciative of the USTA Foundation for giving students the opportunity to showcase their talents and inspiring them to be a part of making a difference in their communities. Join us in celebrating Xander for his wonderful representation of MWYF, advocacy for his community, and talent as a writer. You can read Xander’s award winning essay in its entirety below. Congratulations, Xander!

The impact that I hope to see my NJTL, the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, make is that they can get all of the youth off the streets and have a safe educational environment to come to after school. MWYF can help Jacksonville’s crime go down in the neighborhood that it is located. The more youth that go to the programs, the more that we can keep them from killing people, using or selling drugs and joining gangs. The most specific thing I want MWYF to be remembered for is the way they helped youth of all races get off the streets of Jacksonville.

MWYF can continue to help youth develop positive mindsets that we are winners at the end of the day no matter what. The staff love us so much that we consider each other family. They provide us with life skills classes we can use to overcome the hardships in life, help us with our homework and other educational activities that youth will need 50 years from now. The MWYF staff would also need caring and loving adults as we do now – they all help us get to where we are at now. If you are feeling troubled and you do not know any trusted adult, staff at MWYF will talk to you. Youth will need that long into the future.

I also want MWYF to be remembered for exposing youth to the sport of tennis, which is rare in our community except for youth that attend the program.

So fifty years from now, the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation would be remembered as being an all-around good place to go to feel loved and safe from crime. We always stress that we are family and you are loved for who you are no matter what.

by Xander Freeman


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