Growing the game for people of all abilities is a continued objective for the Kids Golf Foundation. Over the years, we have enriched the lives of students with a variety of conditions including autism, hearing loss, and cerebral palsy. The goal is to improve their quality of life and introduce them to new skills and recreational activities.
Many local schools have students in adaptive physical education classes. Training sessions are hosted for faculty (including non-golfers) to learn life skills instruction and swing fundamentals with SNAG (Starting New At Golf) equipment. The colorful, oversized tools make starting the game fun and encourage a high success rate. A curriculum and activity layouts are created as a guideline knowing that each student will have modifications to best help them succeed.
All program sites are encouraged to include special needs boys and girls in Tee Level Clinics this summer! Kendall County Special Olympics hosted a program last season for 17 participants and were thrilled with the results. “Every athlete enjoyed learning the game of golf and participating independently in the sport,” said Site Coordinator Justin Olson. “Not only did their abilities as a golfer improve, but also their self-confidence and self-pride. As the week went on, the athletes felt more comfortable picking up their clubs, attempting more difficult and challenging activities, and communicating with others at the golf course. The joy and happiness on the faces of the athletes as they engaged in every activity was prevalent throughout the week.”
The Sunshine Through Golf Foundation has been a key partner in growing the game. Since 1993, over $300,000 has been dedicated to helping Foundation program sites. As we continue working together, our goal is to bring more groups with special needs focus into the golf community.
In addition, the Foundation regularly plans programs with the Freedom Golf Association (FGA), an organization dedicated to providing golf opportunities to people with physical disabilities. Local schools began including special needs students in Elementary School Clinics hosted by the Foundation at Rich Harvest Farms. FGA brought staff trained in adaptive golf instruction to support the various participants.
On March 2, 2013, the inaugural FGA Invitational was hosted in Des Plaines, Illinois. PGA Teaching Professionals and Illinois Junior Golf Association (IJGA) members teamed up with therapists to help special needs participants learn the game. Groups enjoyed stations with nutrition and hydration, stretching, rule and etiquette, and various skill stations. The Kids Golf Foundation helped create the event format and led the life skill station to reinforce the history of golf, staying in school, violence prevention, career opportunities, and communication.
FGA will be hosting an “Adaptive Golf Training Course” in Lemont, Illinois on May 10-11, 2013 to offer our Site Coordinators teaching tips from experts. From there, the Foundation and FGA will continue to assist our programs sites with identifying and integrating these youth into the program.
In the future, mentoring days will be offered where special needs youth can experience a therapeutic time at Rich Harvest Farms using the many amenities available, including golf, fishing, horse stable tours, and museum tours.