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A Pediatric Perspective

Golf & Gangs

Published May 10, 2013 11:30 AM by Cecilia Cruse

This title from a recent Advance Article caught my attention.  As a golf enthusiast (where my score does not yet reflect my passion for the game!) and with May being Mental Health Awareness Month I found the topic timely and fascinating.   Basically a group of Level 2 fieldwork students at Kean University in Union, NJ developed an inner city youth camp at nearby Weequahic Park Golf Course.  The group, aptly named PAR FORE for Perseverance, Accountability, Resiliency, Fellowship, Opportunity, Respect and Empowerment started as a 6 week summer program using the game of golf in an attempt to reach teens at risk of getting caught in gang culture in their communities.  Jennifer Gardner, OTD, OTR is Asst. Prof. at Kean and the director of the PAR FORE Program. As she explains in the article “PAR FORE primarily uses the game of golf of help teach kids life skills”.  I like the example of a camp activity they call the Great Egg Putt.  The initial group of 13 kids were divided in two groups and told to create a protective cover around a raw egg using packing materials (newspaper, tape, string etc.) then see which of the eggs could stand up to PAR FORE’s golf pro/ instructor Chaz Moses fairway drive.   Neither group’s egg survived the ordeal, but the kids learned a lot about teamwork and the importance of using family/friends and positive community role models and supports for strength, protection and endurance.  The program was extended  into last fall and will run again this July and August so that the camp and the research can continue.  At the AOTA Conference, I had the chance to stop by the Poster Session (PO 4035:  Evidence-Based Program Development, Funding Strategies and Sustainability of a Community-Based Golf Program for At-Risk Adolescents by Maddox, O’Brien, Walia, Gardner and Falzarano) and chat briefly with Dr. Gardner.  You can find more information include a brief video clip of the program here.  Let’s hope these teens can continue to take their lessons from the golf course out into life. I wish them all success! 


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