TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Sports can help kids discover their strengths. "They're able to connect with others their age. They're able to connect with mentors, older coaches, people to provide support."
Courtney Whitley is a mom of three and says golf has been a big part of her life thanks to her two sons, James and Nicholas.
"My oldest son is now a Sophomore and he was the only one that made it to state," Whitely said. A huge achievment for both Courtney and her boys. She just finished her bachelors in May.
"I returned to school after a pretty tough addiction," Whitley said. Whitley added, "So the YES program has provided scholarships for my boys to be able to participate in golf lessons."
The program at interfaith community services focuses on helping families financially with some of the extra expenses of school. "It supports them with academic support such as tutoring, extracurricular activities like music lessons, sports," said Elise Smith.
Smith runs the program and tells me it's fairly new. "It originated as a backpack program here at ICS where we would give away backpacks to the Tucson community and when the pandemic hit we really saw this gap for the youth in our community," said Smith.
Now with a grant from the Angel Charity, the goal is to reach even more students in need. "We have a goal of serving 150 youth for this fiscal year," said Smith.
And serving students beyond academics. "I think that's the wonderful thing about YES. It really sees the value and importance in youth social-emotional and mental health," said Smith.
That's one of the most meaningful parts of the job.
"My favorite part of the job is when clients come back to me and send me photos, and they write letters talking about their experience and how its been such an impactful program to them," said Smith.
The impacts are felt by many families like Courtney's.
"You need an entire community to raise you up and YES program has certainly done that for us," she said.
Whitley said she's getting an Accelerated Masters in finance. To take part in the YES program you need to be at Interfaith Community Services client. Click here to contact ICS for more information.