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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Possibility Awaits

Independence, dreams, possibilities.  These three words present limitless potential for millions of kids around the world.  Many days these kids get up and head off to school to learn what will be the foundation of their future careers.  Other days the kids get up and the  biggest decision they have to make is whether they will play baseball or basketball all day long.  They have the ability to make those decisions because their bodies allow them to.  They are not challenged by a left arm that refuses to work quite right or a right leg that may not be there anymore.  Nor do they have to worry about transferring themselves from their bed to their wheelchair.  Making sure someone is close by to change their oxygen tank (1 of 25 they will go through on a daily basis) is not a necessity.  Many of the kids who are not faced with these issues think they have it "rough" because they didn't get the newest video game as soon as it was released or their iphone is not the most recent model.

One day for any of these kids (or adults for that matter) in a pediatric hospital would most certainly change their perspective.  Spend 2 minutes in a pediatric oncology unit or talk to the kids in the cardiac ward and tell me that the video games or cell phones really matter.  Talk to the kid in the rehabilitation hospital who is learning to walk with his new prosthetic leg and explain to me how you can get upset because you hit your tee shot into the water.  You can't.  Yet while you talk to the kids in any of these areas you will see some common threads.  They are likely smiling more than you are.  Almost all of them (if not all) have a better perspective and outlook on life than you do.  All of them are working for some independence, they are creating and chasing their dreams, and they all want to know what possibilities await them when they are released to go home.

During their time in any type of pediatric medical facility kids will be presented with a wide variety of activities to minimize boredom and keep them smiling.  However many of these activities are designed to keep them in their bed, hospital room, or wheelchair.  Most facilities do not embrace "care beyond the bedside" like I have been witness to.  This is where golf comes in to play.  Golf gets the kids up, out of bed, and moving.  It puts a smile on their face, makes them laugh, and has them interacting with their peers.  Long drive challenges are extended to therapists or golf professionals (and it is amazing how often the kids win!).  And guess what else it gives them?  Golf gives them independence, a new set of dreams, and it gives them possibilities.

Of course golf can and should be incorporated into the therapy of any of these kids.  There are many physical benefits from playing the game.  However as big as the physical benefits are the emotional and sociological improvements the kids see.  Seeing the smile on the face of a junior golfer as he is on the golf course and driving a golf cart for the first time is indescribable.  Watch a girl give a little fist pump after she makes her 5th straight putt and try not to smile.  Or  you can observe the look on the face of the man working in the golf store who clearly does not think Zakki Blatt can hit the driver he has selected.  That man was quickly proved wrong as shot after shot was ripped into the simulator screen.  Golf has given all of these kids a level of independence and allowed them to dream new dreams.  Soon golf will also give them possibilities.

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