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Putnam County school administrators, elementary school principals, physical education teachers and sponsors who participated in the Adopt-A-School program that provided funding for The First Tee National School Program pose for a group photograph.

Beginning this fall, students at each of Putnam County’s 14 elementary schools will be introduced to the basic skills of golf combined with character development and healthy habits in their physical education programs.

Physical education teachers will use engaging, safe lesson plans provided in The First Tee National School Program curriculum, according to a Putnam County Schools media release. The health activities have been implemented this school term for students to learn about physical, social and emotional wellness.

Money acquired through several fundraisers and campaigns in April is funding the county-spanning golf program.

One campaign was an “Adopt-a-School” initiative where community members and businesses could donate and cover costs for a school of their choice. Those who participated in the initiative are:

  • Buffalo Elementary School: LOC Investment Advisers
  • Conner Street Elementary: Farmers Bank & Savings Company
  • Eastbrook Elementary: Ryan and Melissa Stewart and Harold and Phyllis Payne
  • George Washington Elementary: Big Sandy Superstore
  • Hurricane Town Elementary: Edward Harless
  • Lakeside Elementary: Blizz Biz-Dairy Queen, Hurricane
  • Mountain View Elementary: WoodmenLife
  • Poca Elementary: Appalachian Power
  • Scott Teays Elementary: Calvin Broyles Jeweler and Henderson Insurance
  • West Teays Elementary: Creative Pediatric Dentistry and Crout & O’Dell Orthodontics
  • Winfield Elementary: Generations PT, SNAP Fitness, Fusion Heating & Cooling, General Hardware & Lumber and Tarr Family Businesses.

More than 10,000 schools in 1,400 school districts have implemented The First Tee National School Program. In West Virginia, the program is being used in 133 schools in 27 counties.

“The benevolent and spirit-minded folks of Putnam County have financially made this possible” West Virginia Golf Association Executive Director Brad Ullman said in the Putnam County Schools news release. “Additionally, we sincerely appreciate (Putnam County Schools) Superintendent (John) Hudson’s support of this initiative, in addition to all of the principals and physical education teachers who will execute the programming in their classes.”

Begun 15 years ago, The First Tee National School Program is designed to help students develop an appreciation for the positive personal and social values associated with golf.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome and introduce Putnam County’s 4,600-plus elementary-aged students to The First Tee of West Virginia,” Ullman said. “Through The First Tee of West Virginia, we are positively impacting our youth with the Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits in addition to growing interest in the game of golf.”

The curriculum was developed by The First Tee in conjunction with experts in physical education and positive youth development. It meets national standards developed by the Society of Health and Physical Educators. Physical educators delivering the program are formally trained and certified by The First Tee. They use safe, developmentally appropriate lesson plans and equipment in their classes.

The lesson plans include The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits, which were developed in partnership with the ANNIKA Foundation and Florida Hospital for Children.

In a survey of more than 850 physical education professionals using The First Tee National School Program curriculum, 66% reported using The First Tee Nine Core Values in other sports and activities they teach beyond golf.

The First Tee of West Virginia is a statewide youth development organization operated by the West Virginia Golf Association, focused on introducing the game of golf and its inherent values to youths ages 5 to 17.

The First Tee of West Virginia also teamed with Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in April to raise funds for the program, through a three-day golf shoot-out contest at the Hurricane golf club. A benefit cocktail party and silent auction was held at Sleepy Hollow after the finals of the contest.

“We have a really good relationship with some of the Sleepy Hollow members who have been instrumental in getting us involved with the community and bringing this to Putnam County,” First Tee of West Virginia program director Ashley Hamilton said in a March 27 Metro Putnam article. “It’s so 4,600 kids can have exposure to it every year and know that it’s available.”

The Nine Core Values the program promotes are: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

“The primary goal is always to have fun,” Hamilton said in the article. “Our programs help young people build confidence, develop respect and appreciate the value of giving back to our community, all while learning the lifelong sport of golf.”

More information about The First Tee National School Program is posted online at www.thefirsttee.org and The First Tee of West Virginia website URL is www.thefirstteewestvirginia.org.

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