Three participants from First Tee – Greater Washington DC earned the honor of being selected to attend the Game Changers Academy in Philadelphia from July 19th through July 23rd. Dominque Barksdale, Peter Chen, and Eugene Choi traveled to Villanova University where they met with other First Tee participants and coaches from across the country. While there they participated in conversations surrounding issues of identity, racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The event was facilitated by RISE, a national nonprofit that works within the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, promote social justice, and improve race relations. The participants engaged in workshops, activities, and reflections led by First Tee coaches surrounding those crucial topics. They worked throughout the week towards an outreach project in collaboration with diversity, education, and inclusion leadership in the Greater Philadelphia community.
Peter Chen said his most important takeaway was, “the importance of diversity and inclusion in a community.” With participants from 46 different chapters, there was representation of 46 unique communities at the Game Changers Academy. The opportunity for this diverse group to come together over their shared love of golf and participate in such important conversations led to greater understandings of diversity and inclusion in their own communities, as well as other communities across the nation. Eugene commented on this stating, “I met many participants from across the country who exposed me to how different life is for teenagers all the same age. Regional differences, or diversity between all of the participant’s life experiences allowed me to learn new things and see issues in a new light.”
Dominique gave a glimpse into the conversations of the week saying, “In the RISE session they created an environment where everyone could share their unique experiences, and this created a vulnerable space for participants to speak their truth. Additionally, the RISE sessions revealed society’s flaws, but they also gave participants ways to mentally not be a barrier to ourselves.” This event empowered each participant to share their unique experiences during non-judgmental conversations with other participants close in age and provided a safe space for growth and understanding in the wider First Tee community. She summarized it saying, “Everyone has their own challenges/stories but sharing and telling your story can benefit everyone.”
We look forward to hearing more from these participants about what they learned and incorporating it into daily life here at First Tee – Greater Washington DC. Congratulations to all those who were involved, the future of First Tee looks bright!