Ohio School for the Deaf
The Fore Hope Program was a remarkable collaborative effort in helping my students gain wisdom and knowledge about not only the game of golf but the game of life. Todd Tracy and Lisa LaVelle came to the Ohio School for the Deaf for 45 minutes weekly. They began their program in the fall of 2009. They started off explaining the different parts of the golf course and then weekly introduced new vocabulary and topics related to golf. As the year progressed, we all witnessed how much the students were learning. They were introduced to the golf clubs and became familiar with the different types. They worked on hitting small whiffle-type golf balls and improving their swing. They learned about safety and respect for others on the course and in their surrounding area.
What Todd and Lisa didn’t realize at the time was that the students were learning incidental lessons, such as respecting the staff when they are talking. They found that even though they were outside and having fun, they still needed to pay attention and be able to follow directions. They learned that even if they were hot and tired or a subject was not their favorite, they still needed to show interest and respect those adults offering the help. They learned how to tease hearing adults appropriately and when they were “crossing that line” that young people should not do.
Our students learned how to ask for help and when they should offer the help. They learned to be responsible for picking up their equipment and putting it away and to laugh at their mistakes and not fret when they were having a bad day. It happens to everyone. They learned how to celebrate the small victories and be supportive of their fellow classmates, whether they were winning or losing! Teasing was not permitted so the students could feel emotionally safe as well as physically safe.
The students had the opportunity to play miniature golf at the Four Seasons Golf Course. They had a grand time! Their golf experience culminated by attending the breakfast at the Wedgewood Golf & Country Club. They had never attended a fancy function such as this so wearing their finest clothes and having to learn where to place their napkin and which fork to use was a thrill of a lifetime. Many of my students can now say that they not only enjoy the game of golf but would absolutely love to play it again and again.
I would truly say that this program and its outcome was a huge success with my students. I would love to work with any staff from the Fore Hope Program in the future and thank Mindy Derr for the wonderful opportunity.
Mary Ellen Cox, Ohio School for the Deaf, Middle School Teacher
I was a golfer for over 35 years playing about twice a month. But when I retired in 2003 I began to play about 3 times a week. Three months after I retired I was diagnosed with Parkinson's. I decided that I needed to play to keep my body healthy. But this past summer I began falling quite a bit on the course. I found I was playing less and less because it was embarrassing to have the guys pick me up. Then I heard about Fore Hope from my physical therapists at Ohio Health. After two sessions with the staff of Fore Hope I feel that I can play again without feeling embarrassed. Thank you Fore Hope for helping me to continue play. (Ralph is a retired United Church of Christ Minister)
Sports and athletic competition have been a large part of my life starting with softball as early as fifth grade and continuing with volleyball, softball and basketball in high school followed by basketball in college. After graduating from The Ohio State University, I continued to compete in recreational leagues in softball and volleyball plus added golf and bowling as outlets. Even half of my professional life has been involved with physical activity in someway, either as a physical development specialist, a physical educator or a basketball coach.
I recount this long list of physical activity only to emphasis how devastating the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has been for me. The disease has progressively taken away from me the joy of competing as well as teaching and coaching. A big hole was left in my life.
In 2002, I joined forces with Fore Hope, a therapeutic golf program that has helped to fill that hole for me. Through lessons with their recreational therapist and hints from the golf professionals who work with Fore Hope, I am again able to participate in a sport in spite of the MS.
With Fore Hope, I have not only had lessons, but I have taken part in a weekly golf league with other Fore Hope participants. Each year a tournament is held that pairs an able-bodied golfer with a disabled golfer to produce some good and not so good shots from both as well as a lot of fun and much needed laughter.
Thank you, Fore Hope, for bringing fun and joy back into my life and to, like other golfers, have the opportunity to tell stories and complain about my last missed shot!