The Sandals Foundation has long expressed a belief in the transformative effect of golf in the development of young people. Research has shown that early participation in golf builds self-esteem, discipline, concentration and etiquette which are not only crucial to excelling in the sport, but also to the personal development of children. It is against this background that the Sandals Foundation has provided a much-needed financial boost to the Grow Well Inc. to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of their after-school junior golf program.
Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke said the Foundation is happy to support the program which has a proven track record of fostering positive and constructive growth in the young participants.
“We have had front row seats to see how playing golf every week has helped young people with their development in similar programs such as the Sandals Foundation Care for Kids Golf Program in Jamaica, and we recognize that the Grow Well Junior Program has a similar vision. We are proud to partner with Grow Well Inc. to expand and continue the amazing work being done to positively change the outcomes of young people here in St.Lucia” Clarke said.
The Grow Well Junior Golf Program is one of several after-school youth activities run by Grow Well Inc. The program is now in its eighth year and has introduced the game of golf to more than 120 youths, providing professional lessons to not only help the juniors improve their golf skills, but help to create future productive citizens who contribute to their communities.
The over US$27,000 (EC$72,000) grant will go towards providing professional coaching three days each week as well as providing uniforms, meals, equipment, transportation, coaching camps and holistic student monitoring for 20 at risk youths between 9 and 18 years old. The program is being hosted at the Sandals Golf and Country Club.
“We are absolutely delighted at this major collaboration with the Sandals Foundation,” said Grow Well Board Member, Co-founder and Director of the Grow Well Junior Golf program, Colleen Newman. “What pleased us most was that the Foundation, in interviewing us, was very interested in the total approach our program takes which includes, not only professional golf coaching but seeking to meet the educational and social needs of our Gros Islet youth. They were impressed that we were using the vehicle of golf to help raise the self-esteem of youth for whom the street holds too many inviting distractions.”
The Grow Well Junior Golf Program has seen immense success over the years, most recent of which was Grow Well Inc.’s participant Quain Jones being named the national Junior Golfer of the Year by the Department of Youth and Sports. Accomplishments such as this, Clarke said, further cements the opportunities that youth programs like the Grow Well Junior Golf Program can provide.
“Programs such as these are critical in underserved communities as they provide opportunities to young people that many of them would not have access to. Whether it is through securing scholarships to further their education or competing in regional and international tournaments, sports have a way of opening doors and we are happy to be a part of this life-changing initiative,” Clarke said.
“I thank Sandals Foundation because it means better golf equipment and more coaching, overseas tournaments and my dream of becoming a top golfer could come true,” said 2018 Grow Well Junior Golf Champion, Keymanie Thomas. “Sandals team at the golf club have been good to all of us junior golfers. The let us play on their course and treat us like family. I am very glad they are helping Grow Well.”