Participants Ansh and Daryn Rundown the Game Changers Academy

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PGA Tour – First Tee Event – “Game Changers” at John F. Byrne
PGA Tour – First Tee Event – “Game Changers” at John F. Byrne

Following a tumultuous year, First Tee has offered several national opportunities for participants to connect with others across the country. We are so proud that we have had many of our participants be selected to represent our chapter, especially to attend the the First Tee Game
Changers Academy Honoring Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. in Philadelphia.  Participants Daryn and Ansh were among 48 teens from the First Tee network who were selected for the five-day learning and empowerment academy, and participated in critical conversations around issues of
identity, racism, equity and empathy.  Friends were made, stories were shared and memories were made. Ansh was selected for the “Rise Up” Game Changer award in which he exhibited the most prominent traits of being a Game Changer during the academy. We are so proud of these two and all the time they have dedicated to bettering their communities.

First Tee – Greater Washington, D.C. prides itself on the inclusive environment provided for participants and to have TWO participants be selected for this unique program is an honor. We are looking forward to incorporating the lessons that Daryn and Ansh learned at the First Tee Game Changers Academy into our daily programming at First Tee – Greater Washington, D.C.

Participants Daryn and Ansh took the time to reflect on their experience with us! Continue reading to learn more about how the Game Changers Academy impacted them:

Daryn:

PGA Tour – First Tee Event – “Game Changers” at John F. Byrne

My overall experience at Game Changers Academy was impactful. Being there, I got to participate in open discussions, learn, and engage in each topic involving diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also played nine holes with other participants from different chapters which provided us a great opportunity to rely teamwork. Not only did we get to go on the course, but each golf workshop had a relation to what we learned in our RISE sessions. Evert evening, we participated in social activities with other participants which gave us the chance to get to know each other better. I think this event is important for teens to attend because it gives you exposure, education, and an outlet. Growing up in different areas across the country means that someone else went through something different and/or have different opinions. I think you learn a lot more when you get to have those open discussions and conversations which helps you understand a lot more. 

The events and workshops had an impact on me.  In our table group discussions, I was able to broaden my way of seeing things related to our topics. It was enlightening to hear different perspectives and viewpoints not just from the other participants but the coaches as well. When someone else had a different opinion we were able to talk it out and understand. Also, some participants from my chapter shared personal experiences that I never knew about and I would have never known that they went through that if they never shared. 

One night after playing, we went into Philly and ate cheesesteaks in the park. After that, we split up into groups of five and went on a scavenger hunt throughout Philly. In my group, we were being creative and definitely trying to win. One of the tasks were to find a tattoo that looked like something outside in the city. While doing one of the other tasks at the movie theater, I saw a lady going in with a tattoo of a hand that had water drops dripping off. One of my teammates had a water bottle and we wet my hand and snapped a picture right next to the tattoo. Also, we had to find a police officer, firefighter, or EMT and get them to do a dance off with one of us. We went up to a police officer but he was on duty but referred us to a fire department not too far away. So, we went to the fire department and had a dance off with an EMT, who also had a Mohawk which was also for another task. The scavenger hunt was extremely fun and an event I will never forget. 

The Game Changers Academy was one like no other. We started each day with RISE workshops that empowered us on social issues occurring in the word, such as racism, privileges, understanding our identity, etc. From there, we would practice golf skills through various workshops before our nine hole round of golf that afternoon. All of the activities were amazing and taught us, as participants, so many new things. It also allowed us to build new friendships with other participants, coaches, and chaperones throughout the nation. It was truly incredible.

Ansh:

PGA Tour – First Tee Event – “Game Changers” at John F. Byrne

The RISE Privilege Walk was the most eye-opening experience of the entire academy. The Privilege walk showed how people have different privileges in America based on their race, sexual orientation, disability, etc. Being the victim of a hate crime, I spoke about the fact that Sikhs are the targets of mistaken identity, especially after the hate crime that took place on 9/11. Discussing personal experiences, I shared my cousin’s hate crime story, as well as the shooting in the Gurudawara (Sikh temple) in Wisconsin, along with the Swastika vandalized on our garage door. This speech left participants and coaches in tears, showing them that different people have faced extremely serious and scarring situations in their past. By the end of the presentation, I spoke about how grateful I was to have a loving community of players into the academy who would become my lifelong friends, and that because I have this privilege, I can feel belonged, regardless of my race and religion.

The event was definitely important for teens to attend because it opens their eyes and shows them how important it is to learn about golf as well as social issues. Being granted the Rise Up Game Changers Award, I can definitely say that the Academy creates a new sense of understanding in teens and allows them to not only see, but visualize social issues and their plausible solutions in order to become game changers in their communities.

As stated before, I shared an extremely personal experience during the privilege walk and showed how the Privilege walk affected me personally. It was extremely emotional and scarring to re-live those memories, but it was also important to show the participants at the academy that different people have different privileges. No one person’s privilege will ever be the same because everyone is different.

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