The First Tee Aurora and Fox River Valley is marking its 14th year as a nonprofit organization, providing children in the community with a fun, safe environment to grow and learn life skills through the game of golf.
The First Tee of Aurora and Fox Valley connects with more than 11,000 physical education students at 40 schools throughout the Aurora area during the school year. The heart of the program takes place in the summer months, when approximately 1,100 children attend the First Tee facility located at Phillips Park Golf Course.
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Nearly 300 community-funded scholarships are awarded to deserving children, allowing them to attend the program each summer, transportation included, at no cost. Many of these scholarship participants qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program.
Last summer, Aurora-based Quad County Urban League's Youth Leadership Program students received some of those scholarships. The First Tee of Aurora and Fox River Valley also has provided spring and fall programming sessions over the past 10 years for special needs students from Aurora's Hope D. Wall School.
The summer golf program is open to all children ages 5 to 17 throughout the Fox Valley community. It includes a life skills curriculum, a certification track and numerous participant opportunities.
Participants 9 and older who complete the weeklong camp are given ID cards that entitle them to a $3 discounted rate for nine holes at participating courses and a free bucket of balls on the driving range every day throughout the summer.
The First Tee of Aurora and Fox River Valley picks up the difference on the rate the kids pay, which has resulted in an average of 1,000 rounds of golf and 2,000 buckets of range balls being played by First Tee participants each year.
Affiliated course sites include Phillips Park Golf Course, Fox Valley Golf Club, Fox Bend Golf Course, Orchard Valley Golf Course, Valley Green Golf Course and Wolf Run Golf Course.
All students who remain in the First Tee program have the opportunity to obtain college scholarships through the Leon McNair Scholarship Fund and the National Scholars Program.
The First Tee of Aurora and Fox River Valley aims to expose an increased number of children to the game of golf and its positive inherent values. To find out more about classes and pricing, visit thefirstteeaurora.org.