For the third time, 8-year-old Emily Chanthavisay ran to the corner of the tennis court to throw the ball over the fence and into the inaccessible bushes. But 14-year-old Emma Peplow anticipated and intercepted the move just in time.
With the same expression of patience and understanding she displayed for the past hour, the Newport Harbor High School freshman guided the young child back to the center of the court and continued the lesson of hitting the ball over the net.
Emma coordinates her tennis lessons for Down syndrome children through the Down Syndrome Assn. of Orange County. This was just another day on the courts with her students. The lessons were her idea and her solo project.
It is unusual for volunteers to come to the association with an idea for a new program and then run it themselves, according the association's director of community relations, Kellie Perez.
But the concept wasn't unusual to Emma.