EXCEL and First Tee – Atlantic Team Up to Introduce Golf to Children

This school year, up to 4,000 Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s (HRCE) primary students will experience golf, many for the first time, in a fun after-school setting – all thanks to the collaboration of First Tee – Atlantic and EXCEL.

First Tee is a youth development program that provides children with life-enhancing experiences through golf and is delivered in three accessible settings at golf courses, schools, and community centres. Although First Tee – Atlantic is still in its infancy having launched programming last summer, programming is up and running across all four Atlantic provinces.

EXCEL is a before and after-school recreation program for students from pre-primary to grade six, currently operating at nearly 70 school sites across HRCE. EXCEL selected First Tee – Atlantic as one of its external programmers for the 2022/2023 school year and has awarded First Tee over $10,000 to complete 120 one-hour sessions.

“EXCEL is a program that strongly values physical activity, and we want to offer as much variety as possible,” said Jeff Turple, Manager HRCE. “Lately, we have been trying to introduce some programming that might be outside of the mainstream school sports such as basketball or soccer. We are very excited to expose our participants to golf and other activities that they might not have otherwise experienced until much later in life, if at all.”  

The First Tee school curriculum meets the national standards developed by Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada), and school program locations are provided with youth-friendly and safe equipment including clubs, balls, targets, and more. The curriculum is designed with a life-skill focus, fostering the continued development of skills like integrity, confidence, and perseverance learned through golf. First Tee school sessions are modified to the participants’ abilities and incorporate elements of other activities such as soccer, baseball, and bowling with a golf twist.

“The technical aspects of traditional golf lessons can deter young minds. The focus on having fun is what separates First Tee’s approach from regular golf lessons,” said First Tee – Atlantic coach Andrew Reid, PGA of Canada Professional. “It’s a joy to experience the kids having fun and see the look of surprise on their faces when they perform a cool shot. The kids even started chanting the names of their EXCEL leaders to encourage them to join in on the fun.”

First Tee – Atlantic and EXCEL share the same vision: provide youth with affordable access to recreational programming and promote healthy living and active lifestyles.

“We believe that children from all backgrounds should have an opportunity to play golf and have fun doing it. Our goal is to break down common barriers that may deter children from taking up golf,” said Colin Gillis, First Tee – Atlantic Program Manager. “Through like-minded partners like EXCEL, we can achieve that. Together, we are providing empowering environments for youth, and with this kind of community support, we will continue to expand our reach and positively impact more children through golf.”

Are you interested in offering First Tee – Atlantic at a school near you? Email [email protected] for more information on how to get started.