Grants in Action: Veteran Empowerment Through the Game Of Golf

Special to the Alliance Blog: Kim Seevers, Adaptive Sports Foundation, Program Development & Grants Director

Golf 1 GroupTwelve U.S. combat veterans gather around a table at the Adaptive Sports Center in Windham, NY. A few greet old friends, injured veterans they’ve participated with in previous Adaptive Sports Foundation events. Others sit quietly, faces pinched with nervous energy, unable to engage with the others. One finds it hard to even enter the building as this is one of the few times he’s left his home since returning from combat and/or rehabilitation. Everyone is quickly drawn into the circle by ASF staff, volunteers, and the program alums, many of whom felt the same trepidation the first time they came to a Warriors in Motion program. All have some type of disability; amputation, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic problems of all types, or combat or post- traumatic stress. On the agenda is a three-day golf camp for injured troops; they will spend the next three days learning the game of golf, talking about wellness and nutrition, pursuing restorative yoga, practicing relaxation techniques to improve their sleep habits, and connecting with other veterans who have been through similar military experiences. They share meals, and after dinner, they relax together in the cozy comfort of the Adaptive Sports Center.

Yes this is just a golf camp, but make no mistake, the healing effects of the program will last well beyond the three or four rounds played over these next three days.
The physical, emotional and economic toll of a serious service-related injury does not end when the service member leaves the military. Years after they are discharged, veterans who were badly hurt while serving are more than twice as likely as their more fortunate comrades to say they had trouble readjusting to civilian life. A warrior who attended all three WiM golf camps last summer relayed this up-date to us after his program ended.

“Last May I was a lost soul. Though I never attempted suicide, every day I wished to die, mostly because all the pain I felt, and the misery I caused people because of my pain, would go away. I was 248 pounds and was on medication. Today I weigh 203 pounds. I have taken part in initiating a Suicide Awareness Ruck on Veterans Day. I’ve spoken on the topic to my daughter’s school. I’ve run a Ragnar Relay and ran a sprint triathlon and a half marathon (with my golf instructor). In summary I would tell you that your programs change lives. One life I can assure you is mine.”

ASF staff and volunteers believe in the power of the outdoors and the benefits of the tranquility of a day spent on the Windham Country Club golf course with the beautiful Catskill Mountains in the background. We believe in the emotional healing and subsequent empowerment of our injured heroes. We know that regular exercise reduces stress, obesity, depression and secondary medical conditions for individuals with disabilities.

“ASF is an important part of warriors succeeding in obtaining a viable activity level. They encouraged me even when I felt failure, they stood by my side to assure that I obtained the skills that were long terms goals to improve my life. ASF has taught me the beginner skills that I have taken back to my community to use on my own (golf, kayak, and cycling). Learning these new skills has also increased my motivation to continue being active, which in turn assists with my depression and sleep.”

Warriors in Motion programming strives to impact the ‘whole warrior’ in three aspects of their recovery; physical, cognitive, and social. According to the Penn State Hershey Center for Nutrition and Activity, because of their low impact nature, activities like paddling, cycling, golf, and hiking are all useful tools for people in rehabilitation to gently increase strength and aerobic fitness without doing any harm to existing injuries. These activities have also been proven to improve joint health and flexibility and to increase range of motion which keeps joints fluid and lubricated.

With support from the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, ASF was able to offer three multi-day golf camps between May and September 2017. The Alliance provided funding for greens fees, coaching fees, and to help the veterans pay for their travel expenses to get to the camp. This support will continue through the 2018 program, allowing Adaptive Sports Foundation and the National Alliance for Accessible Golf to impact even more injured veterans the prospect of recovery through the game of golf.

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From the Executive Director: WOW!!!

WOW!!  What a great 2018 PGA Merchandise Show week in Orlando.  More than 40,000 attended to view the latest in equipment, travel and fashion.  This year there were education opportunities on accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, and a dedicated area on the exhibit floor.  It is definitely movement in the right direction to bring to the attention of the industry that golf is for everyone.

DSC_0371Capping off the week in Orlando on January 26th, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf staged its first annual education conference on accessibility and inclusion.  More than 50 people attended to learn more from experts and share about including individuals with disabilities into the game and into life.  The highlight was our keynote speaker, Sam Depe III.  A PGA Professional and course owner from Pennsylvania, and winner of the PGA of America Deacon Palmer Award, Sam spoke about his disability, how that hasn’t held him back from achieving success in business and life, and about the need for inclusion in the game.  It was very inspiration to all in attendance!

While in Orlando, we had the opportunity to attend the Advisory Committee meeting for Golf 20/20 (to be known henceforth as We Are Golf), and attend round-table discussions on Diversity and Inclusion for Golf 20/20.  Often times when the industry talks about diversity and inclusion, it usually is in reference to gender, ethnic minority or youth.  But we had an opportunity to raise the point to ensure that when the industry talks about this topic, they also include individuals with disability.  After all, disability crosses all segments of society.

In closing this month, we want to remind you that grant funding is available for grassroots programs that are engaging individuals with disabilities in an inclusive program.  Check out the grant process at www.accessgolf.org under the Grant tab.

PS: Keep an eye out on our website at www.accessgolf.org for photos and some of the PowerPoint presentations that we had from the Conference on January 26.  They should be available online shortly.

Steve Jubb, PGA, CEO/Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Looking Back But Focusing Forward

Well, Happy New Year to everyone. We started plans to host our first annual conference on Accessibility and Inclusion, January 26, 2018. Being held at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive in Orlando next to the Orange County Convention Center and the PGA Merchandise Show that week, it is going to feature guest speakers and round-table discussions on best practices in areas such as engaging youth with different abilities, military and veterans, etc., along with updates on ADA, engaging with Special Olympics, serving youth in the autism spectrum to mention a few of the topics. Registration spots are limited so sign up today (before January 15th) at http://www.accessgolf.org. Also In 2017 through the USGA/National Alliance for Accessible Golf, we awarded more than $60,000 in grants to grassroots programs. Since inception of the grant program, we have awarded more than $800,000. Funding is available so check out the grant program also on our website at http://www.accessgolf.org.

As I write this blog, I would like to look back to excerpts of a blog I wrote back in January 2016. Those comments are still applicable today. “When we talk in the golf industry about growing the game and also the business of golf, we generally focus on youth, women and other minority populations, or those who have left the game or decreased their rounds. This is great as we need to strive to ensure that golf is available to everyone. After all, it is a game you can play whether you are 8 or 88. But often times, we don’t consider a segment of our population that is willing and ready to consider our sport. There are over 57 million people in the United States who have some form of disability, or as I prefer, individuals with “unique abilities”. In surveys that have been conducted over the last 20 years, it is estimated that 10 percent currently play golf. 22 percent played before incurring their disability, but 35 percent may have an interest in engaging with golf at whatever level their ability allows.” “So now you are asking, how do I connect with individuals with “unique abilities”. Well, I am sure that near your community there are hospitals or rehab facilities that are looking for options in therapeutic recreation. There may be a VA hospital in your area. Also, there are Special Olympics chapters all over the country that would love to connect with instructors for the Special Olympics Athletes. Individuals with “different abilities” are out there and would love to connect with you and the game of golf. They just need that knock on the door and encouragement that they can engage or re-engage with golf at whatever level they can.” Together, let’s make 2018 a great and inclusive year in golf!

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Words Matters

Before I begin the blog this month, I wanted to remind you all to mark your calendars for January 26th during the PGA Merchandise Show.  The National Alliance for Accessible Golf will be conducting its first education conference on accessibility and inclusion. It is a full day from 8:00 to 3:30 with speakers and round table discussions on topics such as ADA Updates, Best Practices for accessible and inclusive golf, connecting with Special Olympics and connecting with individuals in the Autism Spectrum, to mention a few of the topics.   It will be held at the Rosen Centre Hotel next door to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and is an easy walk via a sky bridge for those attending the Show.  Registration is open online at www.accessgolf.org.  Click on the Register Now graphic on our homepage.

Now on to my comments for December.  How many times have you heard people refer to an individual with a disability as “a handicapped person”? Or used the “R” word to describe an individual with intellectual disability?  Or refer to someone as a “dwarf or midget”?  These are some of the descriptions we need to change.  A disability description is just a medical diagnosis.  In communications with people, we need to focus on the individual first.  Use phrases such as a “Person with a disability”, a “Person with intellectual disability”, or a “Person short in stature”.  Always put the Person first in your communication.  A Person with a disability is a Person just like those without disability.   They just happen to have a medical diagnosis.  Better yet, just refer to them as a Person!!  A great resource concerning People First Language is: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/pdf/disabilityposter_photos.pdf 

A final reminder that as we approach the end of the year, and we are all getting prepared to file our tax returns for 2017, we ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf in your year-end charitable giving.  We are very reliant on individual donations to promote and advocate for golf to be inclusive, and to provide education/training programs such as on January 26th.  It is easy to make a year-end donation to the National Alliance.  Go to www.accessgolf.org and click on the “DONATE” button on the upper right corner of the homepage.  Thank you in advance for considering the National Alliance for Accessible Golf in your year-end giving.

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Looking Forward to 2018

It is hard to believe but another year has almost gone by.  Hope you all have had a great 2017, especially those who are engaged in ensuring that the game of golf is inclusive for everyone especially those with dis/Abilities.  Golf is a game that can be played by everyone.  Some putt on the putting green, some hit shots on the range, some play a couple of holes and some play 9 or 18 holes.  But we all play GOLF!

For the last several years, the United States Golf Association has partnered with the National Alliance for Accessible Golf to help fund grassroots programs that are developing individuals with disabilities into the game of golf through inclusionary programming.  Did you know that funds are available right now for such programming?  Since the inception of the USGA/Alliance partnership, grants totaling more than $800,000 have been awarded to program impacting more than 14,000 individuals by engaging them in our sport.  Check out our website at www.accessgolf.org under “Grants” for a list of programs that have been supported as well as the grant criteria and application.  If you are doing grassroots programming that meets the criteria, don’t pass up this funding opportunity. Dollars are waiting for your application.

Mark your calendars for January 26th during the PGA Merchandise Show.  The National Alliance for Accessible Golf will be conducting its first education conference on accessibility and inclusion. It is a full day of speakers and round table discussions on topics such as ADA Updates, Best Practices for accessible and inclusive golf, connecting with Special Olympics and connecting with individuals in the Autism Spectrum to mention a few of the topics.   It will be held at the Rosen Centre Hotel next door to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and is an easy walk via a sky bridge for those attending the Show.  Registration is scheduled to be online at www.accessgolf.org by mid-November.

As 2017 is almost over, we are all preparing to file our tax returns for 2017.  We ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf in your year-end charitable giving.  On November 28th, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, “Giving Tuesday” is being held nationwide to have individuals donate to various non-profits/charities to support those organizations’ missions.  While we do get support from the various golf associations, we are very reliant on individual donations as well to provide the grants, promotions/advocacy for golf to be inclusive, and education/training programs.  So, consider making a year-end donation to the National Alliance by going to www.accessgolf.org and click on the “DONATE” button on the upper right corner of the homepage.  Thank you in advance for considering to support the National Alliance.

Everyone have a safe and grateful Thanksgiving.  See you next month!

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Fighting the Good Fight

Wow.  It is October already.  Many of you are wrapping up your summer programs and for some of you the golf season is coming to a close.  We hope it has been a great year for you, whether you run a facility, a program or are involved in a program that ensures accessibility and inclusion.

Over the course of the last several years, I have seen many organizations form to serve individuals with dis/Abilities.  Many are out there fighting the good fight for inclusion and accessibility.  And some have left this arena.  In the end, they all have a place in the universal effort to ensure that individuals with dis/Abilities have access to our game and to life.  They all have a niche and I applaud each of them for their efforts.

One of the terms I have noticed used by some of these organizations and programs is “Adaptive Golf.”  Well, stepping back and looking at it, we all are just teaching and engaging individuals in “Golf” and at the same time “Life.”  We may use adaptive equipment.  We may adapt our instruction plans to accommodate the abilities of the individual.  We may adapt the traditional round of golf (9 or 18) and engage individuals at whatever level of the game they can.  They may just putt on the putting green.  They may just hit balls of the range.  They may play 1 hole, 3 holes or whatever.  But in the end, they are all engaged with our sport – Golf!  So, if you are a golf course operator or professional, course owner, management company, program coordinator, or therapist, see how you can connect with the 57 million individuals and if you can get them involved with golf.  Not only will they experience a game and all it offers, but think of the social and psychological benefits of getting out of the house or rehab facility, out into the fresh air and green grass.

And if you are expanding or starting a program, consider visiting our website at www.accessgolf.org and click on “Grants.”  Funding is available for accessible and inclusive programming.

Until next month, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

National Alliance for Accessible Golf

From the Executive Director: Save the Date

Hello to everyone.  I must apologize for being tardy in getting uploaded this monthly blog for September.  Just a few things going on in South Florida like Hurricane Irma and the aftermath.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by Hurricane Irma as well as Hurricane Harvey.  Pray that this is the end of the hurricanes this year.  Enough is enough!

This month I want to make everyone aware that the National Alliance for Accessible Golf will be conducting an education conference during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL on January 26th.  The conference will be conducted at the Rosen Centre Hotel next to the Orange County Convention Center.  Panel topics include everything from What Does Inclusion Really Mean to ADA to Adaptive Equipment to Program Development and Sustainability.  While details are being finalized, keep an eye out for more information and registration shortly on www.accessgolf.org.  We hope to see many of you there.
Grants Available Fall 2016

As we approach the Fall of 2017, I wanted to also let you know that the National Alliance for Accessible Golf has grants available through funding from the United States Golf Association.  Many of you out there either conduct Accessible/Inclusive Golf Programs or you might be a participant in a program.  If you have a program or know of a program that focuses on accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in golf, then check out our website at www.accessgolf.org under “Program Funding.”

See you next month.  In the meantime, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Diversity and Inclusion Are More Than Buzz Words

Diversity and Inclusion are popular buzzwords in the golf industry these days. Often times, it is to refer to gender or ethnic diversity and inclusion in society and even the game of golf.

However, Diversity and Inclusion also needs to include individuals with disabilities.  Often overlooked in these discussions, whether in society or golf, what we find is these individuals like everyone else have abilities.  There are great efforts around the country like PGA HOPE, Special Olympics, National Amputee Golf Association along with the Eastern Amputee Golf Association, Els for Autism to mention just a few.  Each strive to work towards inclusion in the game and in life.

However, some golf courses still balk at accommodating individuals with disabilities.  Aside from Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the potential litigation that could come from denying access to individuals with disabilities to the game, if we truly want to create a society of inclusion, then why not reach out into your community and see how you can bring someone new to the game, someone such as those with a disability?

As we mentioned last month and before, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf has toolkits for golf courses and individuals with disabilities, best practices, and a program/facility search engine.

DYK - Search Engine

Further, our search engine connects individuals with disabilities with local programs and golf facilities. If you have an inclusive program in your community or at your golf facility, go to our homepage at www.accessgolf.org and scroll down and click on the link to enter the program information.

Finally, if your organization is looking for a speaker or presenter concerning the subject of inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the game of golf, contact us at info@accessgolf.org and we will work with you to locate a speaker for your event, meeting, etc.

Together we can all make this game inclusive and accessible.

Until next month,

Steve Jubb, PGA, Executive Director

Executive Director: Together We Can

WOW!  Half the year is already gone by and most of us are in the middle of summer and our programming to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to the game of golf and life.  Hope it is going well for you all.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf has had a busy year thus far.  Meetings at both the PGA Merchandise Show and the Golf Industry Show.  National Golf Day on Capitol Hill in DC in April followed by our annual Board of Directors meeting in Alexandria, VA.  Presentation by Jan Bel Jan of our Board at the American Society of Golf Course Architects in May.  Then that was followed up by our presence at the 2017 Special Olympics North America Golf Championship in Seattle.  And now here in the first week of July, meetings and exhibit at the Department of Defense Warrior Games and the Warrior Summit Transitional Resource Fair for Veterans and Families in Chicago.  All this along with the various grants we have distributed to grassroots programs for accessible and inclusive programming.  And still we have another half of the year to go.

DYK - Alliance General

July is National Alliance for Accessible Golf Awareness month.  Check out our website for resources, search engine, articles, best practices, etc.

Together we can all make this game inclusive and accessible.

DDk3vPCUIAAwx5-P.S. I had a big surprise at the Special Olympics event in Seattle.  During Opening Ceremonies, on behalf of Special Olympics and PGA of America, Beth Major of the USGA and Board member of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf presented me with the Conrad Rehling Award for efforts over the years with Special Olympics and individuals with disabilities.  Very emotional moment for me.

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Stay Safe On the Course This Summer

iGood morning (at least it is morning where I am).  We are moving into summer here in Florida.  It is hot.  Which reminds me that everyone out on the golf course this summer needs to make sure they are hydrated.  Speaking from experience, you do not want to have heat stroke.  Also at the same time, make sure you wear sunblock.  Skin cancer is nothing to fool around with.  I visit my dermatologist at least twice a year.

In May, the National Alliance attended the American Society of Golf Course Architects Annual Conference in Jupiter, Florida.  Jan Bel Jan, National Alliance Executive Committee member and member of the Executive Committee of the ASGCA, presented on Accessibility in Design.  Well done, Jan.  Very informative session.  We are working on uploading the PowerPoint to our Resource tab on www.accessgolf.org.

Also in May at our monthly Board of Directors conference call, we had the privilege of Kevin Corn join us and share with us his program in conjunction with Ranken Jordan Pediatric Hospital in Missouri.  The work that Kevin and the hospital are doing, using the game of golf for rehab and smiles for the children who are patients, is improving lives through the game.  Check out the following videos about the program, or visit the blog at http://rankenjordangolf.blogspot.com:

“May Reynoso – Ranken Jordan Golf Program”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nopYTCy4WGE

“Cooper Burks – Ranken Jordan Golf”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg-aywNC2SE

Last month, I focused this blog on some of the resources that the National Alliance for Accessible has for individuals with disabilities and access to our sport, golf.  Hope you all had a chance to visit our website and check out the resources we have there.  If not, go to www.accessgolf.org and see what is available.

Whether you are an individual or an organization, you can help make this game of golf more inclusive.  And in the end, that is what golf should be – a game for everyone!!

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director