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Gameon Autism Q&A with GameOn autism golf programme development co-ordinator Edel Randles

GameOn autism golf is an innovative programme developed to give children and young adults on the autism spectrum access to the game of golf. We spoke to Edel Randles who is co-ordinator of the GameOn autism golf programme development in Ireland about the upcoming training seminar and what the programme is about.

What is Els for Autism?

With Autism affecting 1 in 59 people in the US (1 in 65 in Ireland), the Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie and Liezl Els as their son Ben is on the spectrum. The Els Centre of Excellence located in Florida, is a hub for training golf instructors on best practices for teaching golf and sports to individuals with autism. It has since expanded its reach to Europe and South Africa, and through partnership with the UNESCO Chair at the Institute of Technology Tralee and the Golf Trust UK, instructors and coaches can now avail of training to become skilled in delivering the GameOn Autism golf programme in Ireland.

The foundation was set up to support children with autism through a variety of therapeutic elements including music, art, fun games and golf. The programme is aimed at developing social and communication skills, encouraging social interaction and promoting healthy living through golf. Infused with evidence-based practices for teaching golf to individuals with ASD, GameOn autism golf is designed to build self-esteem and confidence in a fun, welcoming and supportive environment. The programme encourages participants to learn golf skills while practising specific autism learning objectives, including: communication, regulatory, motor and social skills.

Golf is very suited to children with autism. Unlike many other team sports that often become overwhelming to someone with ASD, due to many different and distracting stimuli, including crowds and loud noises, golf is structured and offers repetition, whilst allowing children to play at their own pace in a peaceful natural environment. Through the GameOn autism initiative, Els for Autism is spreading autism awareness within golf communities. Through education and the development of partnerships with autism organisations, teaching professionals and golf courses, the programme’s broader goal is to make golf clubs welcoming and inclusive environments for people on the spectrum.

What is the main aim of the programme?

The main aim of the programme is to equip people to better understand autism and to be able to deliver the GameOn autism golf programme, to make golf more inclusive and available to children with autism across Ireland.

Do you run many training days?

To date we have delivered two very successful training seminars to thirty-five people ranging from coaches, teachers, parents, golf mentors and people who have an interest/ working in autism. We don’t run the training seminars very often, to date once a year, so we encourage as many people to come along, even if you aren’t fully sure what you want to do yet, as the training covers many different aspects and will offer opportunities to meet other people who are working in inclusive golf environments.

What is involved in the training on the 4th September?

The training covers characteristics of autism and the relationship between autism and golf. After the training you will be able to host a GameOn autism golf day clinic, and the GameOn autism golf programme. You will also have access to more resources and support in running a GameOn programme.

Timeline: 3 hour indoor didactic seminar, 30 minute break, 45 minute clinic set up, 1 hour GameOn autism golf clinic.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of training, attendees will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of key characteristics of autism spectrum disorder.
  • Understand the administration side of coordinating and running the GameOn autism golf programme.
  • Utilise information learned in the indoor training to create proper station set-ups with visual supports for the GameOn autism golf clinic.
  • Utilise communication strategies taught in the indoor training to effectively teach participants with unique abilities and challenges.
  • Properly use visual supports such as commenting boards, social stories, boundary markers, station signs, task analyses to ensure predictability and structure within the GameOn Autism Golf Clinic.
  • Provide accommodations and modifications of teaching strategies based on social/communication needs of each participant.
  • Implement the 2019 GameOn Autism Golf Programme.

Is this for you?

Are you a PGA Professional (PGA 25 CPD points awarded), an exercise leader, a PE teacher, and/or a golf and autism advocate? If you answered yes to any of these, then it is for you.

When is the training and how can I get involved?

The training is taking place at the GUI National Golf Academy in Carton Demesne, Maynooth on 4th September 2019.

  • Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
  • Location: GUI National Golf Academy, Carton Demesne, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
  • Booking info: CLICK HERE TO BOOK

For further information contact Edel Randles: Email: edel.randles@staff.ittralee.ie Phone: +353 (0)66 714 4198

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