We want to take some time and reflect on what an incredible year we have had impacting youth and families here in NWA throughout 2022. Take a look back with us as we go by the numbers, where each one stands for a specific way we are making a difference in the community.
1928. The number of youth that were impacted at our facility through our programming: First Tee Classes, Spring, Summer, and Winter Camps, Operation 36, Fassi’s Friends, High School Development, Play with Me Class, and our new Intro to Golf course. That is not just 1928 kids that we taught golf to, but rather 1928 kids we were able to impact with our character development and life skills curriculum.
These kids learned: Respect – for themselves and for others. Integrity – keeping their own score, and being honest. Good Sportsmanship – encouraging to their peers. Goal Setting – holding themselves accountable to improve. Perseverance – not giving up when things get hard
All of these things can be taken with them in other areas of their life, outside of golf. School. Home. Future workplace. We are teaching more than golf, we are Building Game Changers and preparing these kids for the future.
1090. This is the number of hours we spent in 2022 programming at our Lowell facility. We offered more camp options and new classes this year, therefore allowing more opportunity for us to impact youth in NWA. Although the majority of these hours were spent doing something golf related, through each golf lesson and drill, we are incorporating the First Tee Key Commitments and teaching so much more than just golf to our participants.
A highlight for us is when a participant comes to class and is able to make the connection of something they learned and how they applied it in other areas of their life. A connection to their classes at school, other sports they play, or even at home with their parents or siblings.
Family-friendly is one of the top things we want people to relate to our Par 3, Nine hole course at our First Tee – NWA facility. In 2022 we had three different Adult/Child scrambles, and 54 different families represented.
One of our favorite things is watching kids come out and learn the game, or give it a try for the first time, with their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. One of our tournaments we had six family members across THREE different generations represented. What a sport golf is that it can bring together families from across many generations to play and enjoy the game together; and what a blessing for us to be able to offer a safe and kid-friendly environment where these family memories can be made.
This year was our 2nd Annual Confidence Classic High School Tournament, and we had 130 high school golfers from NWA and beyond come to Bella Vista to compete in a tournament to ready their teams for post-season play. This is an opportunity for schools of varying sizes to compete against each other, building confidence in their game, and meeting other like-minded students who share a love for the game of golf together.
In speaking with coaches, this tournament has been a favorite among their teams because it allows them to play multiple different schools at once, versus the 2-team matches that regular season offers. Some of the smaller schools that attend our tournament enjoy the chance to play at a bigger course than they are used to. We are grateful to provide opportunities to these youth as we continue to work toward growing the game of golf in our area, and impacting youth beyond the boundaries of our facility in Lowell.
Our Character Development Mobile Unit program offers a program within the program called Frame by Frame. We have had 12 students participate in this program in 2022. These students have the opportunity to learn about the world of video and cinematography. They are encouraged to identify the adversities they face and use them to produce impactful videos to better tell their own personal story. Led by the incredible Mr. Omar from the Springdale School District, he is showing them how film can be used to tell about their personal experiences as well as helping out in their communities and their school.
Over the last year, our Frame by Frame kids have had the opportunity to interview the Razorback Men’s Basketball team, write, film, and produce short videos, as well as filming different events with our First Tee programming.
Thanks to some community grants we were able to provide 3 training opportunities for our staff. They were trained and certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED. This gave them knowledge and a higher comfort level of preparedness in case a medical emergency situation came up during classes or camps. They were also trained by an Ability Tree representative where they learned to effectively communicate and work with participants with disabilities or physical challenges. The third training session covered social and emotional behavior skills conducted by a licensed counselor and clinical social worker. This session helped our staff to be prepared to be more understanding of the various social and emotional needs of children, and meeting those specific needs in appropriate ways.
These training sessions elevated our staffs confidence level in working with kids, and we had a lot of positive feedback from both staff and parents thanks to these training sessions. As the world around us continues to change, we are adapting in order to better meet the needs of the families we serve.
Looking back over all of the events First Tee – NWA participated in throughout 2022, there were 17 events that did not fall under our regular programming that we participated in. We are so grateful when we get to take part in community events, and help with other organizations to make an impact with kids right here where we live. We love all of our event opportunities, but some definite favorites this year were: Fassi’s Friends Festival held at our own facility, Blessings Collegiate Junior Invitational Clinic with the Arkansas Razorback men’s and women’s golf teams, and the Confidence in Sport activation tent at the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship tournament.
So many kids, from so many backgrounds, and a reach like no other. We are grateful for opportunities to grow our impact beyond our facility.
It has been an incredible year of impacting kids – 977 to be exact – with our Character Strong curriculum through our Mobile Unit at several different schools across Springdale School District. We had Mobile Unit participants come to our camps this summer, and many of our kids who would love to attend our program again and again. We are grateful for the incredible community partners that help us provide snacks to the kids we serve, and those that come out to teach them about their business or share their expertise on things such as our local water supply or financial literature.
We love the direction things are going and can’t wait to see where the Mobile Unit takes us next – literally!
This year at our first ever Game Changer Banquet, we gave out 20 awards based on character! It was an incredible evening of celebrating the accomplishments of these young participants. The character and life skills these youth demonstrated in class are skills that will grow with them beyond our First Tee programming, and prepare them for other areas in life – school, home, and their future workplace.
We also honored someone who has helped us tremendously with our Character Development Mobile Unit’s drives to help underserved kids. Our winner, Morgan England, is a true example of the great things that can be done, when equipped with great character. She is the epitome of a Game Changer in the community, and when she sets her mind to something, amazing things happen. This award will be named after Morgan going forward – The Morgan England Community Game Changer Award – and we look forward to seeking out other individuals in our community, and in our classes, going into 2023.
Our Mobile Unit hosted three different Drives to benefit underserved students and families this year. The total impact of all three of these efforts was 699 people served!
Back to School Drive – We kick things off in August gathering backpacks, lunchboxes, and school supplies! At this event, students leave with everything needed to start the year off on the right foot, the opportunity for a FREE haircut, and we feed event attendees lunch – this year we served 289 kids!
Thanksgiving Drive – this year was our first to have a Food Drive, and thanks to Central States Manufacturing and the help of several donors we were able to gift 150 families a complete Thanksgiving meal.
Holiday Toy Drive – This is our 3rd year to host a toy drive, and we have accumulated enough toys to gift 1-3 toys per kid – total impact of 260 kids served. We love putting the Happy in the Holidays for so many kids!
Giving back to the community is not only a need, but as a true privilege for us to be in a position to do. We teach our participants to be Game Changers, and what better way to model that for them than giving back to our community when we are able. Each year our impact with these Drives have grown, and we can’t wait to see what next year will bring in ways we can impact NWA in a positive way.
As much as we loved making an impact in 2022, and it’s fun to reflect on the great things that happened, we can’t help but look forward to what 2023 will bring. We will continue to elevate our programming and increase our impact – and we are able to do so thanks to the incredible support of sponsors and donors, alike. As we close up this year, if you are looking for a way to make a difference with your dollars, please consider supporting First Tee – NWA. We’d love for you to be a part of the great things happening right here in our community.