Golf Tees Up in Kelowna Schools

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An early introduction to golf increases the odds it will become a life-long activity and it teaches important life skills on the fairway, according to the B.C. Golf Association. That is why it created an outreach program, with support from 2010 Legacies Now, called Playground to Fairway that delivers lessons directly in schools around the province.

In Kelowna, the Playground to Fairway golf program has enrolled close to 1,100 children in 11 elementary schools over the past two years.

"As a sport, golf isn't always accessible to everyone, whether it be cost or location," said Lindsay Jackson, one of the program's coaches who also works at Two Eagles Golf Course and Academy in West Kelowna. "When we introduce it through the school system with quality instructors we can build excitement for golf and hopefully present an avenue for students to continue if they are keen. The end result is more kids being aware of the game, and we're keeping kids active."

Getting youth active is important: according to Statistics Canada, 26 per cent of Canadian children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Even small increases in physical activity can have dramatic effects on children's health. Also, some research has shown a positive link between regular physical activity and improved grades.

Playground to Fairway is one of more than two dozen programs funded by 2010 Legacies Now, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada through a three-year grant that supports B.C. organizations in attracting new participants to sport by improving access. Since 2004, 200,000 people in 110 B.C. communities have joined activities funded by the sport participation grants.

Playground to Fairway is open to children in Grades 4 to 6. So far, the B.C. Golf Association (BCGA) has put 20,000 children through the program in its first two years and is targetting another 5,000 in the final 2009/2010 school year.

The grant from 2010 Legacies Now supports certifying coaches who train school children using SNAG equipment, which can be adapted to indoor use. This equipment is colourful, lightweight and designed for kids to see success within three swings-capturing their interest so they will continue playing long into the future.

The BC Sport Participation Program aims to increase sport participation in community and school-based sports, while also increasing participation by seniors and people with disabilities. The program helps provincial and multi-sport organizations extend their community reach and improve the quality of sport delivery. The program is funded by the Province of British Columbia and Sport Canada, and administered by 2010 Legacies Now.