EDI golf Golf Ontario Special Olympics

Golf Ontario’s EDI Journey Continues with Visit from Special Olympics Ontario

With the sixth annual Ontario Adaptive Championship is right around the corner, Golf Ontario welcomed members of Special Olympics Ontario to share their life experiences and lead a professional development session around adaptive golf.

Nine Special Olympics Ontario athletes visited Wyndance Golf Club in Uxbridge to present what Special Olympics Ontario does, how they support athletes with intellectual disabilities and showed our staff how to support athletes with intellectual disabilities to create a welcoming and inclusive sporting environment.

“This was a great opportunity for our team on our learning journey in an adaptive golf space and having Special (Olympics Ontario) here today was to help us learn and understand what the experience is for them on the golf course,” said Golf Ontario CEO Kyle McFarlane.

The day started with an opening presentation from Special Olympics Ontario’s Director of Sports, Johnny Byrne. He took Golf Ontario staff through Special Olympics Ontario’s competition structures and how Special Olympics Ontario uses sport to create opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

He also alluded to Special Olympics Ontario’s mission of building the lives Ontarians with intellectual disabilities through sport, vision of creating disability-inclusive environments across the province and values of empowerment, excellence, respect, diversity and inclusion.

“I think what we got out of today was seeing just the great connection and how both Golf Ontario and special Olympics Ontario have the same bigger picture goals,” Byrne said.

We were then introduced to the eight Special Olympics Ontario athletes in attendance, which included 2015 World Games Gold Medalist, Tess Trojan, accompanied by her caddie and father, Mike Trojan.

“Special Olympics has really changed my life,” she said. “I’ve learned that we’re all friends first and not just competing against one another.”

Along with Trojan, the remaining seven athletes of Special Olympics Ontario, along with their caddies and coaches, were:

Natasha Stasiuk; Mike DiRaddo; Luke Cooney; Catherine Partlow; Ryan Colpitts; JJ Scorcia; Krystian Pushka.

Later in the day, Golf Ontario staff got the chance to play an eight-hole round of golf accompanied by a different athlete on each hole. The day brought about many smiles, conversations and capped off a wonderful day of learning for all.

“Exciting for our team to get out there, have connections, build those relationships, but more importantly, to have conversations and use this as an opportunity to learn and understand what it means to be a Special Olympian and a Special Olympics golfer,” McFarlane said.

Getting outside, playing golf and making connections was beneficiary for both Golf Ontario and Special Olympics Ontario.

“The universal language that we always fall back to when we’re trying to explain Special Olympics to people is just get out and play, and that’s what today was about,” said Byrne.

For more information on the upcoming Ontario Adaptive Championship at Weston Golf & Country Club July 15 – 16, CLICK HERE.

To support the growth of adaptive golf opportunities in Ontario, consider donating to the Golf For All Fund.