Athina Chen, Rachana Ajjarapu, and Kelly Yu from First Tee — Silicon Valley have been selected to attend the First Tee Game Changers Academy Honoring Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. in Philadelphia, July 20-24, 2021. They are three of 48 teens from the First Tee network who have been selected for the five-day learning and empowerment academy and will participate in critical conversations around issues of identity, racism, equity and empathy.
Athina is a rising Senior at Henry Gunn High School and has been part of FTSV for 9 years and volunteered for 2 years. She is an Ace participant which is our top level. She has also finished her Ace project work and is pending review from First Tee National to become Ace certificated which only a handful of participants from around the country achieve each year. She is the founder of the Socially Responsible Investment Fund club at her school and wants to contribute towards transforming the world of finance to make it more diverse and inclusive specifically for women of color.
Rachana is a rising Junior at Monta Vista High School and has been in our program for 8 years. She is an Ace participant and an active volunteer coach for our chapter since 2018. Outside of our program she is a member of Athletes Against Assault with the goal of promoting change within her school and community culture around safety, especially women’s safety.
Kelly is a going to attend Boston College in the Fall and is Ace certified (our top honor and level). She has been in our program for 10 years and has volunteer coached for our chapter since 2017. At school she is the Director of Outreach at Coalition Z which is working to engage youth in politics and social justice.
All three FTSV participants are leaders in and outside of our program and are taking action in their communities to be positive difference makers,” says FTSV Program Director, Chris Moreno-Hunt. “Acceptance in the Game Changers Academy will provide valuable lessons and experiences which will equip them with the tools to give back and make positive change. We are proud of who they are and how they want to make this world a better place, and we are excited to see them pursue their goals in order to shape the future.”
“Diversity, equity and inclusion have been part of the fabric of First Tee since the beginning, and we are proud to provide an event that allows teens from across the country to go deeper on the subject,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “First Tee is about empowering these young people to be game changers in their community. Congratulations to Athina, Rachana, and Kelly for being selected from a national pool of candidates to represent First Tee — Silicon at this event.”
The event will feature engaging and interactive workshops facilitated by RISE, a national nonprofit and leader in the sports community championing social justice and working to improve race relations. The workshops will explore a multitude of topics that encourage personal growth and understanding of diversity concepts that foster positive change in the community.
The workshops will be paired with reflections led by nationally trained First Tee coaches, team building activities such as a scavenger hunt in the city of Philadelphia and a community outreach project, and keynote speakers from the sports industry including Vice-President, Community & Inclusion for the PGA TOUR Marsha Oliver.
First Tee – Greater Philadelphia will host the teens for golf outings at John F. Byrne Golf Course where they will continue to build upon their connections with other participants from around the country and hear different perspectives from their peers.
First Tee Game Changers Academy Honoring Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. is one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee headquarters designed to inspire and encourage high school students on a deeper level as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities. The Academy honors First Tee’s former CEO, Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., who led the organization from 2000 until his retirement in 2017.
Congratulations Athina, Rachana, and Kelly!