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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Any Questions?

Questions are a natural part of anything involving children.  Juniors are naturally inquisitive and tend to ask about anything and everything imaginable.  Many times the question will simply be "why?" and you feel as if you will never give an acceptable answer!  Other times the question will be more in depth and you will try to figure out how to give an acceptable answer.  The golf clinics at Ranken Jordan are no different as the junior golfers are always throwing questions at us.  Often the questions are the same as what would be heard in any other junior golf program at the thousands of golf facilities around the country.

"How do I hit it farther?"
"Why didn't the ball fly straight?"
"Do you know Tiger Woods?"
"What do you mean I have to hit something other than a driver?"

These questions are asked in every junior golf program regardless of location, amount of experience the junior golfers have, or type of facility the program is at.  Then there are some of the questions I have heard during our golf clinics.  These are the questions that let you know that the program is making a difference in the lives of so many amazing children.

"How can I keep playing golf when I leave the hospital?"
"Will you help me find the right golf clubs and play golf with me when I go home?"
"Can my dad come watch because he said he never thought he would see me hit a golf ball?"
"How can I play golf from a wheelchair?"
"I want to keep practicing; can't therapy wait?"

Some of these questions are easier to answer than others.  One of my favorites is when the kids want to keep practicing and the therapists have to try and explain why they have to go to therapy!  Other questions that I have heard can make your eyes get a little sweaty.  Yet others simply bring a big smile to your face as you realize the impact golf is having on the lives of these kids.  It is always wonderful to see family members come to the clinics to watch the kids play golf.  The looks of amazement, the tears of joy, and the positive comments are truly heartwarming.  Showing the relatives that playing golf is a reality is a major step to keeping the kids playing once they leave the hospital.

The best part of all the questions that are asked is that the inquisitiveness about the game comes from a real interest and enjoyment in what they are doing.  Each of these junior golfers genuinely enjoys having the opportunity to learn to play golf and sees that their medical condition won't keep them from this great game.  As I have mentioned numerous times in several different blog posts a pediatric hospital is not the first place many would think a junior golf program can be successful.  The 1,400+ kids we have seen in the past 2 1/2 years prove otherwise.  Golf is a great healing tool and in our program it is utilized as such.

The game does not just help heal the physical issues the children are facing.  It helps heal their mind and soul as well as their body.  Of course the most obvious improvements are the physical ones, many of which are nothing short of miraculous.  But during my time working with medically complex children I have also seen personality changes in many of the kids.  After talking with them, therapists, nurses, doctors, and family members, it is clear that golf is playing a significant role in many of these changes.  These improvements and changes are in many cases just as important as the physical ones.  I can say with great certainty that there is no better feeling than knowing this junior golf program has played a small role in the healing of so many kids.  Now it is time to get busy and add programs around the country . . . and in the process we will help thousands upon thousands of kids each year.

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