As Children’s Mental Health Week comes to a close, the Golf Foundation is celebrating the early impacts of their Unleash Your Drive in Schools initiative, aimed at changing the face of mental wellbeing in schools.
Since its launch in September last year, nearly 500 schools have registered their interest in being part of the programme, with the first cohort now delivering golf sessions in schools using their adapted Golfway equipment.
The nine mental toughness tools at the heart of the programme have proved a hit with pupils and teachers alike, and the Golf Foundation travelled to Arkholme Primary School in Carnforth, Lancashire, to check in on the delivery in action during Children’s Mental Health Week, and to speak to those involved.
“It’s been really fun,” said one of the pupils. “I’ve enjoyed all the games. I like learning all the new skills – its really nice that its inclusive. My grandad plays golf and he helps me play so it’s great to play in school as well. I like it because it helps me improve in golf and helps you with your future. You can use the skills in other areas of your life.
“The mental toughness tools have been really interesting,” added another pupil. “I’ve used the square of concentration in my maths lessons!”
The square of concentration is one of the mental toughness focuses, alongside elements that help breathing, dealing with heightened emotions, positive self talk, focus, and visualisation – all of which can help young people deal with challenges in every day life.
Over 100 of the early adopters of the programme have now started delivery, with fully funded kit bags available to those who need the most support. To date, one third of the kit has gone to the schools in the most deprived areas of the country, as the Golf Foundation continues its promise to introduce children from all backgrounds to the game. Part of the joint Junior Strategy with England Golf is growing the game in all areas, and schools are a vital part of the work.
“We believe that all children should have access to golf regardless of their background – it’s great for their mental health and wellbeing,” explained Andy Leigh, head of Unleash Your Drive at the Golf Foundation. “Unleash Your Drive is a great programme to introduce children to golf and it also provides a platform for life skills which will help them at school and beyond school as well. We want to take this into more schools across the region and the country.”
“The children absolutely loved this session and having Andy here to work with them,” added Emma Muckalt, PE lead at Arkholme School. “They’ve learned loads since they started the Unleash Your Drive sessions. They’ve really taken everything on board and it has helped with their learning across the curriculum and not just in golf which is great. I’d recommend it to other schools – the videos and online sessions are really easy to follow.”
With Nick Dougherty at the forefront of the campaign, the future is bright. The second wave of applications open soon, while the Unleash Your Drive fundraising campaign has some amazing prizes on offer, including the chance to play at Wentworth alongside Nick, and earn a spot in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am.
To find out more, visit www.golf-foundation.org/uyd