15 Jan 19
An innovative programme supporting inclusive sport via the medium of golf has been named Best Partnership of the Year 2018 by Sport Ireland.
The Kerry based group has been engaged in ground breaking work, bringing golf to young people with autism. The partnership involves five entities: UNESCO, ITT Health & Leisure Dept, Castlegregory Golf Club, Rising Stars Golf and the Ernie Els Foundation.
Rising Stars Golf was created by Liam Duggan to bring junior coaching to schools in the Munster area. Liam tragically passed away in 2017 but his early work engaging with the Els Foundation and the #GameOnTM Autism Golf Program continues to bear fruit.
The UNESCO/ITT team ran the first #GameON programme outside of the US, and also evaluated the impact of the programme for the Els Foundation.
Golf is a great activity for young people with autism due to the repetitive nature of the game conducted in a natural outdoor environment where one can play in silence or one can chat without any external pressure. There are very few sporting activities which offer such a conducive environment for people with autism to engage in health enhancing physical activity and to experience sporting success.
Rising Stars PGA coach Adrian Whitehead has been involved in delivering the golf coaching and said; “I''m privileged to be able to deliver on Liam’s dream of developing #GameOn in Ireland, Liam’s legacy will live on.”
The programme has provided a sporting outlet for 26 children whereby their parents can look on from the clubhouse and share information on navigating the supports available to young people with autism in Kerry.
UNESCO/ITT/Els for Autism has also hosted two #GameON Autism clinics for PGA coaches, club coaches and mentors in 2016 and 2018.
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