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Special needs children benefit from golf program at the Insperity Championship

S.U.C.C.E.S.S students and teachers at the Insperity Championship.
Photo credit: Paul Lester

May 1, 2013

HOUSTON- The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (Students Undertaking Challenging Courses Ensuring Development of Sportsmanship and Skill) Golf Program, part of the Be an Angel Fund in Houston, features a nine-hole traveling mini-golf course designed specifically for special needs children. The unique curriculum behind the program allows special needs children to have fun, learn a lifelong activity and increase fine motor skills and brain development.

On Tuesday afternoon at the Insperity Championship, the S.U.C.C.E.S.S Golf Program held their culminating event, featuring 12 kids from the over 500 that participated during the year.

The smiles, hugs and high-fives from participants let everyone in attendance know just how successful the endeavor has been.

Bill Shank, the chairman of the board for the Be An Angel Fund, remembers how the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Golf Program started just like it was yesterday. It was an idea born out of a makeshift presentation given by a teacher three years ago in front of the South Texas PGA Section. The lightbulb in Shank’s head went on and with his determination, the S.U.C.C.E.S.S Golf Program soon became a reality.

Shank helped spearhead the development of the entire program, but it was the funding from Insperity that was the tipping point for the entire project.

“We now have this program in several different school districts here in Houston and our goal is to grow this throughout the metropolitan area. Insperity underwrote the project and when they made their commitment, it was an unbelievable step for us. It was great having a company that has a rich history in golf take a look at this program and see what we’re trying to do for these kids that don’t have an opportunity to be out and do this type of thing.”

Marti Boone, Executive Director of the Be an Angel Fund, explained the original idea in detail.

“About the time of the Masters Tournament, we saw a teacher cut out construction paper in her gymnasium and she went about creating her own Masters experience for the special needs students in her school. It brought up an idea for us. We thought golf was definitely a sport that our children could participate in and we thought it would not only be fun but also they would be able to utilize life skills and everyday methods.”

Members of the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. organization soon met with adaptive physical education teachers, as well as speech and occupational therapists, and created the portable nine-hole course as well as some short-term and mid-term goals and objectives for the program. They use the course, going from school to school, to introduce children to the game of golf.

“The program focuses on teaching the game of a lifetime to children who would not otherwise be able to participate in a sport or hobby,” Boone said. “Early training in the game increases the chances that once these children with multiple impairments become adults, they will have a lifelong activity to participate and enjoy. Today’s competition is the culmination of the whole program thanks to Insperity.”

The program was originally introduced on a pilot level to the Aldine Independent School District in Texas and the Humble Independent School District in suburban Houston and has since grown to help children with disabilities in the Spring Independent School District as well.

Cedric Kennebrew, father of 13-year old participant Ayani, is grateful for the opportunity the S.U.C.C.E.S.S Golf Program has given his daughter.

“As a parent, seeing those who are willing to give back and to help boost (our children’s) confidence means so much,” said Kennebrew. “There were so many professionals here today, people with the expertise and experience in golf, who were willing to give their time for those who are challenged in other areas of their life. They see that it is possible for them to achieve as well.”

For more information about the S.U.C.C.E.S.S program, please visit beanangel.org.

READ MORE ABOUT: , Insperity Invitational , Youth/Children
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