Golf club embraces inclusion
CASTLEGREGORY Golf club was recognised for its work this past week in helping to develop a new Autism-friendly golf programme, one of the first of its kind in the country. The club has lead the way in the establishment of the first Ernie Els #GameOn Autism Golf programme.
Together with its partnership of UNESCO; ITT Department of Health and Leisure; Rising Stars and the Els Foundation, the golf club has been recognised nationally for this initiative. Five members of the group attended the CARA/ Sport Ireland National Inclusion Awards last week, where they were amongst the three finalists in the Best Partnership 2018 category. They were delighted to see their work of the last three years acknowledged and better still, to win first prize.
The late Rising Stars PGA coach Liam Duggan brought the #GameOn initiative to Ireland and the UNESCO Chair/ ITT, in 2015, but sadly was not there to see his idea realised. However, PGA coach Adrian Whitehead has continued the work with #GameOn and has helped to keep Liam’s legacy to the fore, ‘Liam is never far from our thoughts when we are running these golf sessions’.
The Els Foundation provide the #GameOn materials and support resources; ITT Health & Leisure students through their Community Leadership Initiative (CLI) module, coach mentor on the programme while Rising Stars coach Adrian Whitehead, who also delivers golf to primary schools, leads the coaching sessions. Dept. of Health & Leisure lecturers Edel Randles and Jackie Gallagher coordinate and organise the programme and Castlegregory Golf Club is the venue where the outdoor programme is located, whilst its club members coach and mentor the youngsters as they develop their golf game.
“The golf club volunteers have been fantastic, coming out to coach/mentor each week, whilst also donating clubs, golf prizes to the programme, this programme has enabled golfers to really give back, a most rewarding experience for everybody involved,” said Edel Randles.
Already the programme has been delivered to 26 young people with autism, some of whom travel up to 50 miles to join the weekly sessions.
Golf is recommemded as suitable activity for young people with autism, due to the repetitive nature of the game, conducted in a natural outdoor environment, where the silence can be enjoyed, or a chat can be had, without pressure, and a plethora of competing stimuli.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin presenting Edel Randles (UNESCO/ITT) with the CARA/Sport Ireland National Award at Castlegregory Golf Club on Friday. Also in picture are Michael Keane, Patricia Goodwin, Mary Cieperski and Tommy King, GameOn volunteers at Castlegregory Golf Club.