VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Jan. 30, 2020 – Imagine walking into a school gymnasium and instead of basketballs shot from half court, golf balls made of foam were flying through the air or rolling along the floor.
That was the case recently when more than 50 elementary school teachers from across Hampton Roads were introduced to The First Tee, a national school program that introduces the game of golf to elementary students while teaching important life skills.
With the help of Virginia Natural Gas (VNG), students from 28 local schools in Hampton, Newport News and Virginia Beach will be introduced to the lifelong sport while learning the basic motor skills and inherent values of the game.
Partnering with The First Tee of the Virginia Peninsula and The First Tee of Hampton Roads for the third year in a row, VNG, through its parent company, Southern Company, is providing $84,000 to fund the equipment, training and curriculum to provide professional development sessions to teachers on how to integrate the program into physical education classes.
Through financial partnerships like these, The First Tee has positively impacted the lives of more than 15 million students nationwide through after and in-school programs. This year alone, more than 48,000 students from 100 elementary school across Hampton Roads are expected to take part in the program that builds character and instills life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
“Thanks to Virginia Natural Gas, elementary school students from Hampton, Newport News and Virginia Beach will be able to touch a golf club and have the opportunity to learn the game of golf and the life lessons it teaches,” said Jessica Evans, The First Tee of the Virginia Peninsula executive director.
“Students are learning all the Core Values, Healthy Habits and Life Skills needed to be a successful young person through our program,” said Nancy Moore, executive director of The First Tee of Hampton Roads. “Golf is just the vehicle to get them there and allow students to have fun while learning in a physical education setting.”
During the training, the teachers learned how to grip a golf club, how to properly and safely swing it and, perhaps more importantly, how golf is the only sport in which the players keep score and call penalties on themselves.
In golf, they learned, integrity is paramount.
The program is not about becoming an excellent golfer, but about the students setting goals, learning responsibility, respect and integrity.
“The First Tee program is different from other youth recreation programs and focuses primarily on child development and education while teaching character and life skills using golf as a teaching tool,” said Kenneth Magee, Community Affairs manager for Virginia Natural Gas. “The program aligns with our company values and is something we’re very excited to get behind.”
First Tee stresses Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. Along with character building and instilling life-enhancing values, the program also promotes Nine Healthy Habits to help students take care of their physical, emotional and social needs.
Since 2004, First Tee has been bringing those lessons to the classroom, gyms and the fairways, and trained teachers from more than 9,000 elementary schools across the country on the curriculum that introduces students to golf and core values.
“We have been involved in the program for the past three years and see the value,” added Magee. “Through our partnership, we’re getting the chance to be part of a movement focused on elevating opportunities for young people and help them succeed in life.”
About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides natural gas service to nearly 300,000 customers in southeast Virginia and has been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and customer-focused natural gas service providers. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company has also been recognized by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, community outreach and educational programs, and was named Local Distribution Company for three consecutive years. Virginia Natural Gas has been ranked by its business customers as being one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as one of the Top Workplaces in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states and approximately 700,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.
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