Golf, Life Lessons Available to Guard Children
By Elaine Wilson
WASHINGTON, (4/30/10) -- It's tee time for children from military families, thanks to The First Tee Military Affiliate Program.
The program offers free golf instruction to children from National Guard and Reserve families geographically separated from a military base at The First Tee's 200 chapters across the nation.
School-age children at all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, are invited to hone their golf game with the help of trained coaches. The goal is to welcome at least 6,000 participants, defense officials said.
The program not only sharpens children's skills on golf course greens and fairways, but it also provides life skills. Along with basic golf instruction, The First Tee coaches teach children interpersonal communication, managing emotions, goal-setting and overcoming obstacles.
"The First Tee youth development program gets kids outside in fresh air and sunshine, engages them in meaningful activity, and provides the opportunity for individual skill building with group camaraderie," said Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department's office of family policy, children and youth. "The First Tee core values mirror the core values of their parents, including honesty, integrity, respect, courtesy, responsibility and perseverance."
To sign up, parents can visit a First Tee chapter in their community or download a coupon for free instruction by visiting The First Tee website, http://www.thefirsttee.org/military. The site also includes a listing of chapter locations.
"We are excited to have this program as an option for military children in or near their communities," Thompson said.
Military children on or near a base, both stateside and overseas, also can benefit from free golf instruction through The First Tee. Some local chapters have teamed up with stateside military youth programs to offer the program to military children.
First Tee officials also are working with some overseas installations to implement its program. The First Tee provides the curriculum and training so the program can run without a nearby chapter.
Military families should contact their local youth center to determine if The First Tee program is in place or coming their way.
"We recognize that military children have many interests, and for that reason, we continue to look for a wide variety of opportunities that offer a positive learning experience along with the opportunity for personal growth," Thompson said. "We know also that if it's an activity for children, these opportunities need to include an element of fun."
The First Tee, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, was created in 1997 as a way of bringing golf to youth who otherwise would not be exposed to the game and its positive values, according to The First Tee website.
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