05 May 2022 | Participation |

Gala Day a win for Special Schools

by Golf Australia

The 100 participants from 12 Special Schools across southern Victoria were "loving every bit" of the Gala Day at Edithvale Golf Course.
The 100 participants from 12 Special Schools across southern Victoria were "loving every bit" of the Gala Day at Edithvale Golf Course.

Golf Australia’s recent Gala Day for Special Schools at Edithvale Golf Course proved to be a big hit with the 100 participants involved, and their teachers and coaches.

The participants came from 12 Special Schools across southern Victoria for the fun festivities and they were divided into two groups on the day: one group which was split into smaller groups that rotated through putting, chipping and driving range activities and the other group which went out on course playing a nine-hole Ambrose format.

"These kids are loving every bit of it, regardless of where the ball ends up," said Paul Boxall, a PGA accredited all-abilities coach based out of Edithvale. "Most of these kids have never picked up a golf club before so hopefully today will give them a bit of inspiration to try golf a bit more in future."

The Gala Day has proven to give participants the golfing bug with one particular student, Alexander, continuing his golfing journey at Edithvale ever since discovering his passion for the game at the 2017 Gala Day.

"Alexander loves golf so much that between then and now he’s never missed a Saturday lesson," Boxall said. "He plays golf with his dad every week and now he’s about to complete his Community Instructor course to help me run some school programs. He just enjoys it so much!"

The Gala Day event is representative of the first step in golf’s pathway for all-abilities participation in the game which ascends through participation in a MyGolf All-Abilities program, club-level participation, state-level, national-level and international-level participation.

Graeme Maddern, Golf Australia’s Participation Officer for schools in Victoria, noted how this event could kickstart the uptake of golf programs run at special schools during school terms once again.

"We had a pretty good number of schools, especially special schools, that ran golf programs every term with Sporting Schools and Special Olympics funding before Covid hit. Hopefully after today we can slowly build up those programs again to where we were pre-Covid," he said.

Movement through all stages of the pathway isn’t the be-all end-all however.

Yvonne Snell, Special Olympics Australia's General Manager for participation and programs, said that it was imperative for young people with an intellectual disability to form a healthy relationship with sport as “living a healthy life and having an active lifestyle connected to the local community provides a wide range of benefits which will assist them greatly as they live their lives”.

Special Olympics Australia provides golf participants with some opportunities for participation and engagement with programs at schools and affiliate clubs.

The ‘Inclusive Sport in Schools’ program allows funding to be received by schools to bring in specialised All-Abilities coaches to run eight-week MyGolf programs each term. The participants from these programs then transition to Special Olympics Affiliate clubs, such as Edithvale, to then continue their golfer journey.

No doubt the most popular part of the day were the prizes that were given out to all participants, with the sunglasses and certificates accompanying the smiles, cheers and laughs that were evident all throughout the day.

With over 170 PGA All-Abilities accredited coaches nationwide, there are numerous ways for participants to begin their golfing journey in a safe, fun and healthy environment.

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