“Differences make us stronger”

How golf can promote the inclusion of children with disabilities


“With a chip shot, you have to hit the ball from the green square onto a certain part of the course. You tap the ball so that it makes a small arch in the air,” explains David proudly with a broad smile on his face. He is a student at Hans-Thoma-Schule, which specialises in promoting physical development and motor skills, and he is one of the participants in a project whose name translates as “Swinging with Disabilities”. But getting the ball into the hole is not the only purpose of this project – inclusion is another important aspect of the sporting get-together. As well as learning that a driver is a certain type of wooden club and finding out how a putt differs from other types of shot, David and seven of his classmates with disabilities get to know eight students from Phorms Campus Frankfurt Taunus. For two months, the group have been meeting every Wednesday for an hour of intensive golf lessons, during which they can learn with each other and from each other on the grounds of Bad Vilbeler Golfclub Lindenhof e.V. It was the first time on a golf course for all the students when they came together on the driving range, and they all face the same conditions.

“Inclusion is a great topic because it means we’re not outsiders. We’re part of the community instead,” says David. It is often a matter of changing the way people think and act so that everyone becomes aware of how important inclusion is for social interaction. After all, our differences add to everyday life.

Dorothee, a year five student at Phorms Campus Frankfurt Taunus, also takes part in the project. “At first I found the students strange because I didn’t know any children with a disability. But now I find it completely normal,” she says. Like Dorothee, other students often have similar prejudices towards children with disabil­ities at the beginning. To combat these ideas, it is important for there to be every­day encounters between people with and without disabilities – starting from childhood. It is with this in mind that sport teacher Courtney Russ and fellow Taunus Campus teacher George Betts decided to coordinate the project. There has already been a lot of positive feedback from parents about the discussions they have had with their children concerning people with disabilities. “I’ve seen that children with a disability can do exactly the same things as me. I’ve also seen how easy it is for them to talk about what’s wrong,” says 11-year-old Benedict from Phorms. He spent time sitting at the computer with his parents after school to find out more about people with physical and mental problems. “You could say that the project has migrated from the golf course to the dinner table,” adds Courtney Russ. The project has also created a positive atmosphere at Hans-Thoma-Schule. “It’s a success story for the students involved, and this gives them more self-confidence,” explains Ingrid Kötter, teacher and head of Hans-Thoma-Schule. For example, a student with weak hands can still hold the club and take a swing at the ball despite his disability. The project is now to be extended with the same group of students. The goal is to gain the Bronze Award for Children’s Golf, which tests newly acquired skills with 22 tasks involving technique, fitness and an understanding of the rules.

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