The Zina Garrison Academy provides 45 weeks of free programming each year for all young people in the Houston area. ZGA not only provides world-class tennis instruction but also provides college preparatory classes, wellness and nutrition lessons, interactive garden instruction, ACE training, and more. Looking ahead, ZGA plans to expand programs into multiple communities in the greater Houston area extending our reach beyond the city limits to include all Houstonians.
Today, the overall wellness of each child is our goal. In 2017, ZGA added a staff nutritionist and expanded programs aimed at science and math. ZGA offers nutrition and wellness education wherein participants engage in dynamic activities, teaching them how to make better food choices for life. ZGA’s goal is to give families the tools that they need to make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle and to ensure that every participant has a healthy relationship with food. In addition to nutrition, participants are exposed to wellness fundamentals such as mindfulness and emotional intelligence.
Completed in 2018, ZGA worked with General Mills and the City of Houston to create our interactive garden. ZGA continues to collaborate locally with Recipe for Success and Hope Farms, providing ZGA participants a proven, measured curriculum and support for our garden lessons. In the future, ZGA will offer classes from Executive Chef Michael Gabriel, using produce harvested from the ZGA Interactive garden.
ZGA and The University of Texas at Austin are proud to announce a new partnership, which is the first of its kind outside Austin, Texas. ZGA leaders will collaborate with the Department of Diversity, as well as UT Outreach to provide on-site counseling to program participants and parents starting at age six, with the goal of guiding and supporting ZGA students from kindergarten through high school, fostering college preparedness, and maximizing their educational and career opportunities.
The UT Athletic Department and The T Foundation are also engaging with the young people of ZGA. Seven participants will be selected to attend the Longhorn tennis camp each summer on a full scholarship. At the camp, they will be exposed to a campus atmosphere and a glimpse of college life. Each participant will receive a student-athlete mentor who will then stay in contact throughout the year.
ZGA recently began an ambassadors program. Ambassadors are leaders and mentors to all participants in the program. They endure a rigorous selection process, including a submitted essay and a formal interview. Ambassadors are given a platform to contribute to ZGA by telling ZGA staff their critiques about the program. They represent all of the players in the program in doing so.