USGA grant helps First Tee chapters keep programs running during the pandemic
Aaron Hall-King, a New Rochelle native, was attending Albert Leonard Middle School this past March when it became the first school in New York to close due to COVID-19. His mother Kira gave him words to live by.
“The school building may be closed, but the learning continues.”
Kira was the first to reach out when First Tee — Metropolitan New York announced online learning and tutoring. First Tee has become a comfort zone for Aaron, who has been diagnosed with ADHD and needs additional help with instructions. Aaron enrolled in First Tee Life Skills and Education programs in 2014 when he was in the second grade. Since that time, program director, Karen Les Pierre shares that his grades and organizational skills have improved dramatically. Karen didn’t miss a beat when First Tee’s campuses were closed due to the virus and immediately tutored Aaron utilizing FaceTime.
“I love First Tee, because they have great programs for the kids,” says Aaron’s mom, Kira. “Aaron will take individual lessons in the fall. He has really matured with First Tee. If it wasn’t for [First Tee], I don’t know where we would be.”
Aaron is one of many participants reached by the chapter’s virtual programs which were supported in part by a recent USGA grant . So far, they have delivered more than 200 hours of virtual tutoring this year. In addition, hundreds of hours are being spent online and, on the phone, helping participants navigate the college and high school application process through the Path to College program. They also offered Summer STEM online, a six-week program focused on the sciences, computer programming and literacy.
First Tee — Metropolitan New York is one of 51 First Tee chapters to receive a grant from the USGA towards their ongoing commitment to making the game more accessible and welcoming for juniors. In addition to the $200,000 that went to chapter grants, the association pledged $125,000 to help First Tee headquarters develop innovative digital tools that enable stronger connections between juniors, parents, chapters and coaches, bringing the USGA’s total investment to $325,000 for 2020.
“Year after year we are seeing the positive impact that First Tee and other junior programs are having in breaking down barriers and connecting communities through sports,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “It is vital for golf’s long-term health that we continue to create pathways for all juniors to participate.”
First Tee brings kids and teens to the game of golf and leverages it as a catalyst for personal growth through experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience. Through chapters in 150 communities and more than 10,000 schools and 1,200 after-school partnerships, First Tee reaches kids ages 5-18 from all backgrounds.