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RALLY2Recycle: High school students launch tennis ball recycling at Knoch Park

Did you know that tennis players in the U.S. use more than 125 million new tennis balls each year? Even if some are re-used, most end up in landfills, decomposing very slowly.

As the Naperville Park District’s Green Team began to look into recycling tennis balls, the Park District’s tennis coordinator Susie Kursar let the team know that two high school students already were on it.

The project begins


Katherine Ho and Harriet Hunt

Naperville Central High School tennis players Katherine Ho and Harriet Hunt shared a concern about the large number of tennis balls being discarded. They wanted to do something to help. Placing a tennis ball recycling bin seemed to be the obvious solution. And Knoch Park tennis courts would be the perfect place to start, as home of NCHS tennis and of many of the Naperville Park District’s tennis programs.

Beginning in the spring of 2017, they researched recycling solutions and found a nonprofit company, Recycle Balls that would accept boxes of tennis balls and provide free mailing labels. The company has developed their own tennis ball recycling process in which they separate the felt from the rubber and then make a crumb rubber product for use in manufacturing.

Next, they contacted the Park District to ask about where to place a recycling bin. Park District staff advised them that the bin would need to be secure and attractive. Researching different styles of bins, they found one made by Retour Tennis that could be mounted to the fence at the Knoch Park tennis courts.

 

New tennis ball recycling bin at Knoch Park tennis courts

Their next challenge was to figure out how to pay for the bin, which would cost $200. They began promoting their project and looking for sponsors and donors. Naming their project “RALLY2Recycle,” they contacted friends, neighbors and local businesses. When the Naperville Running Company and New Balance offered to donate gift cards, Katherine and Harriet posted a notice on their neighborhood’s website, Nextdoor.com, and were able to sell the gift cards to support the project. John Greene Realtor also stepped up as a sponsor, and together with a private donation, they had enough funds to purchase their first recycling bin.

The new recycling bin is installed


Katherine Ho and Harriet Hunt displaying their new tennis ball recycling bin at Knoch Park tennis courts

 

Park District staff installed the new recycling bin on the fence at Knoch Park tennis courts earlier this fall. Remaining on Katherine and Harriet’s to-do list was creating and mounting a colorful decal thanking their sponsors. Graphic designer Melissa Noto offered to design the decal at no charge. The decal arrived from the printer the last full week of October, and Harriet secured it in place on Friday, October 27.

 

 

Meanwhile, they began spreading the word and collecting tennis balls to recycle.

They received 500 balls from the NCHS boys’ tennis team and some from other conference teams. They count the balls and track them on a spreadsheet, then mail 200 at a time to Recycle Balls with a free mailing label.

They have a vision to continue and expand the recycling next year and beyond. Although Harriet is graduating next spring, they know of at least one other, younger student who is interested in helping.

“We would like to place tennis ball recycling bins at the Park District’s other tennis courts at Nike Sports Complex and DuPage River Sports Complex,” said Katherine.

How you can help

When tennis season begins next spring, save your used tennis balls and drop them off at the recycling bin at Knoch Park, located on the corner of West Street and Hillside Avenue. The recycling bin is on the fence facing West Street. (The bin will be taken down and stored for winter but will be re-installed early next spring.)

If you have more than will fit in the bin, which holds 200, or if you would like to recycle your tennis balls before next spring, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for instructions on how to drop off the balls or arrange for them to be picked up.

Donations will help provide more bins! If you are interested in donating or sponsoring future recycling bins, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

 


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like the Naperville Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities contact
Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at sfontechia@napervilleparks.org.

Looking for an opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives while building a fun and dynamic career? Consider the Naperville Park District! It takes all kinds of skills, knowledge and talent to serve the recreation needs of the Naperville community. If you’re passionate about the outdoors, staying active, having fun and encouraging others to do the same, then check out our part-time and full-time career opportunities.

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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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