The JCC of the Greater Five Towns on Long Island is planning to expand its Play Golf program, which helps kids and young adults with disabilities learn the sport of golf as they get physical exercise and develop socialization skills.
Long Island resident Colon Roberts swings away in the JCC of the Greater Five Towns' Play Golf program for those with disabilities.
While there are many community sports programs available on Long Island for typical children, there are challenges to including children and young adults with disabilities. Thus, those with special needs often miss out on vital growth and socialization benefits that sports provide. The JCC of the Greater Five Towns is hoping to change that through its Play Golf program, created specifically to address the needs of youths and young adults with disabilities.
The Play Golf program, which began last fall at the Lawrence Yacht and Golf Club and is led by volunteers, has given participants ages 10-20 an opportunity to learn how to play the game side-by-side with typical golfers.
The program was created by David Weingarten, assistant executive director of the JCC and father of a son with special needs, and is funded by Sports for Youth, an initiative of UJA-Federation of New York.
“This program has been extremely well accepted,” Weingarten says. “As a result of the program, we are helping these children grow their socialization skills, have fun, and get some exercise playing a sport they enjoy rather than sitting at home playing video games. Plus, we’re giving the parents some respite and showing the community that these kids are great and important members of society.”
Heading into 2014, the JCC hopes to continue the program and expand it to include other towns in its community.
“If we can really get the word out to all of the neighborhoods within our community, we can take this to another level and help so many more children,” Weingarten says. “It’s a great program with so many benefits. We’d love to see it continue to grow.”