Impacting the youth

Anthony Cloud|Daily News Jay Phillips teaches two students how to hold a putter.

As part of their summer school physical education program, students got to spend part of the day Thursday learning how to play golf. The event is part of the First Tee National School Program.

Third graders from various schools got the opportunity to learn skills from one of the 11 First Tee coaches. Students were taught club safety, green safety and how to putt. Coaches also spent some time explaining who they were and what golf events they have participated in.

Hannah Wilford, one of the three First Tee Scholars from the Pine Mountain program, explained that she has been attending First Tee since she was five.

“It’s been my favorite thing to do in the summer just because it’s always given me a chance to build my golf game,” said Wilford. “Now that I’m older, I actually get a chance to give back to the First Tee and help other kids the way the coaches helped me when I was younger.”

Jay Phillips, who attended Harlan County High School, explained that members of First Tee have an impact on the lives of a lot of younger individuals.

“When you’re part of the First Tee, you know you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” said Phillips. “You see the impact you make on their (students) lives in a meager two hours. That’s really a good thing just to see how you can touch someone’s life through the game of golf.”

Austin Caldwell, who will be a freshman at Union College, said the program has a go-to team that will help members through difficult challenges in their life.

“All of us have had some difficult challenges, and it’s always good to have someone to lean on to help you through them,” said Caldwell. “It’s good to be a go to person for the kids knowing they are looking up to you and knowing that you can help them through difficult situations.”

Those assisting in the First Tee Pine Mountain program include Donnie Caldwell, First Tee Coach and Master Coach; Kenny Gann, National School Program Coordinator and Jane Gann.

The First Tee is a 501(c)3 youth development organization founded in 1997. There are approximately 200 chapters throughout the United States and in six international locations.

The First Tee National School Program introduces golf, nine core values and nine healthy habits to students at more than 4,700 elementary schools throughout the U.S. as part of physical education classes. Those nine core values include: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN

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