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Program teaches character through golf

Posted: August 20, 2013 - 4:59pm
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Lori Secrist, left, and Joy Holman take some practice swings Thursday morning August 15, 2013 as part of The First Tee National School Program at Jefferson Elementary School in Warrenville, SC. The program teaches students about golf and the values associated with the game.        Michael Holahan / Staff  MICHAEL HOLAHAN
MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Lori Secrist, left, and Joy Holman take some practice swings Thursday morning August 15, 2013 as part of The First Tee National School Program at Jefferson Elementary School in Warrenville, SC. The program teaches students about golf and the values associated with the game. Michael Holahan / Staff

Aiken County elementary physical education teachers gathered Thursday at Jefferson Elementary School to participate in The First Tee National School Program training.

The teachers, separated into small groups, rotated through colorful stations participating in the same exercises that they will teach their pupils.

The First Tee National School Program is taught in all of Aiken County’s elementary P.E. classes and teaches pupils character development and life skills through the game of golf, said Elizabeth Smith, executive director of The First Tee of Aiken, a nonprofit organization that introduces youth to golf and teaches them values associated with the game.

In the program, each lesson is designed to focus on a core value, golf skill or concept, and a healthy habit.

SNAG—Starting New At Golf-- equipment also makes the lessons fun and easy for pupils to learn. The program’s equipment is provided for free to each school.

The equipment is oversized to help make the skills easily achievable, she said.

“When they are able to accomplish a skill or concept, it builds the students’ confidence and they want to continue,” she said.

Corine Esposito, a P.E. teacher at Hammond Hill Elementary, said that she enjoys seeing how the pupils grow in the game.

“There are kids who have never had a club in their hand and I see them enjoy it so much and go to play at Houndslake (Country Club),” she said, mentioning one of the locations where The First Tee of Aiken’s after-schools are held.

Belvedere Elementary School P.E. teacher Linda Duckett said the program is a fun one to teach her pupils.

“It’s very easy to coordinate and I like the fact that there’s enough equipment so that all of the students can participate at the same time,” she said. “The kids enjoy it. I enjoy it. It’s colorful. It’s fun.”

To make the program truly successful, it takes passionate teachers to deliver the curriculum, said Tony Allman, board chair of The First Tee of Aiken.

“From what I’ve seen today, they have it,” he said. “What I see here is a group of teachers who have that passion. Passion is critical to keep it going.”

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