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Junior golf program aims at life skills mission

Ellsworth students participate in the First Tee program. Photo submitted.

A locally community-driven partnership is underway with the goal of introducing life skills and healthy habits to young people through the game of golf.

The First Tee is on a mission to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs building character, instilling life enhancing values and promoting healthy choices, both in local schools and on local golf courses.

"Our goal is to work together with experts in many fields to develop programs that are proven to have a positive impact on young people. Each lesson is designed to be fun and interactive," said First Tee St. Croix Valley Representative Craig Danielson. "Our purpose is to introduce young people to the game of golf and expose them to The First Tee Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits."

Through founding partner commitments of General Mills and River Insurance Group, The First Tee St. Croix Valley has successfully launched the national school program in five elementary schools to over 2,000 students in Prescott, Hudson, Osceola and Ellsworth.

The First Tee National School Program, taught in physical education classes, provides a safe and effective way to introduce golf to elementary age students. Through local fundraising commitments, the program provides participating schools with the necessary elements to easily deliver a developmentally appropriate golf program, including modified equipment, comprehensive curriculum and online or in-person training.

"For the first time, we have the programs and equipment to introduce our students to the lifetime game of golf. In addition, we are able to promote personal character development into every lesson," said Julie Graber, Ellsworth School District E Fit Director.

Golf and character education activities delivered by First Tee coaches seamlessly incorporate The Nine Core Values, such as honesty, respect and sportsmanship into each lesson, whether in elementary schools or on local community golf courses. The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits are also part of the program to promote healthy, active lifestyles to all involved.

The First Tee Life Skills program opportunities will expand to local golf courses in the area this summer, including Clifton Highlands in Clifton Township, Troy Burne in Hudson, Krooked Kreek in Osceola and soon others to follow. Each participant receives a "Player" book which they use throughout their week-long or six-week series program.

"Each year, our junior golfers will progress through the Player, Par, Birdie and Eagle levels to advance in their growth with the game," said Rob Magnuson, Clifton Highlands. "We are excited to be a part of delivering The First Tee program to our area kids."

For information on summer golf programs or for how to get involved to support the First Tee in the community, call 715-808-8800 or visit