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The First Tee of Southern Nevada: Offering Youth All Around Las Vegas Access to Year-Round Golf Instruction

Does the child in your life want to learn golf in a fun, welcoming and energetic environment? If so, The First Tee of Southern Nevada is for them! At The First Tee of Southern Nevada the instructors strive to provide a seamless experience between golf and life skills.

The First Tee’s programs are designed around teaching young people that game of golf, as well as helping them understand and ultimately develop The First Tee Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. The First Tee’s curriculum was developed by experts in the field of positive youth development through sport and is delivered by caring adult coaches who have all been formally trained by The First Tee. Our coaches are also certified through the PGA of America and LPGA.

At The First Tee of Southern Nevada, golf and life lessons are seamlessly incorporated into each experience. In addition to learning fundamentals of the golf swing and the game, a sample of life skills lessons include: Interpersonal Skills, Self-Management, Goal Setting and Resiliency Skills.
The First Tee of Southern Nevada strives to keep its programs affordable so every child, no matter their circumstance, has the chance to learn the great game of golf. An Annual Membership for one child is just $50 and membership is valid January through December each year. With this membership, the child has access to any “Open Clinic” Programming offered at three convenient locations around Las Vegas and Henderson. “Open Clinics” are offered year round and programing is designed to introduce the game and encourage juniors who have an interest in golf. The format is an open session providing students the opportunity to work on those areas of golf that interest them. Golf equipment is provided for participants that yet to have their own and no child is ever turned away based on ability to pay. Sponsorships are available for those families in need.

The First Tee of Southern Nevada also operates the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association (SNJGA). The SNJGA is a competitive tournament series aimed at providing positive athletic experiences for the more skilled junior golfer. Many participants introduced to golf through The First Tee of Southern Nevada transition to compete on the SNJGA.

The First Tee of Southern Nevada provides golf instruction to any child age 6-17. To register or for more information please visit or call 702-433-0626.

The First Tee of Southern Nevada Open Clinic Programming Schedule

Tuesdays 4-6pm, Wildhorse Golf Club, Henderson
Thursdays 5:30-7:30pm – Las Vegas Golf Club, Las Vegas
Saturdays 8:30-10am – Aliante Golf Club, North Las Vegas

How Young is too Young for a Child to Play Tackle Football?

As an increasing percentage of American children meet the clinical definition of “obese”, the role of youth sports has become as focused on reinforcing a healthy life style as it has building confidence and sportsmanship. Parents of school age children all over the country are deciding which sport is the best fit for their child, and those choosing football have to decide at which age their little athlete is ready for full contact tackle football. Below are three opinions on the topic from people directly involved with youth athletics to help you decide when it’s time for your future All-American to strap on the helmet and shoulder pads.

Ben Joffe – National Youth Sports Nevada National Youth Sports Nevada

was founded in 1999 and is one of the biggest sports leagues in Nevada with more than 14,000 participants in the Henderson/Las Vegas area. Their “Pigskin” division (a tackle football league for kids starting at age 5) is one of the organization’s largest and fastest growing divisions.

Director of Operations Ben Joffe advises that kids who are ready for tackle football are kids who are clearly not afraid of contact. He recommends having first year participants try flag football initially so they can learn the game without fear of contact. Once a child shows passion for the game they can transition into tackle football.

The most important thing is to get the kids out there and promote a healthy life style. In regards to injury prevention, Mr. Joffe says parents can help by being sure their child is properly equipped, paying close attention to how their child reacts to contact, and being aware of mental or physical fatigue in their child as that is when more injuries occur.

Dr. Jason Nielson – Children’s Bone & Spine Surgery, Las Vegas

Jason Nielson is an orthopedic surgeon in Las Vegas who has performed knee surgery on young athletes as young as seven years old. In his professional opinion no athlete should play tackle football before junior high with the reason being injury prevention.

Dr. Nielson doesn’t think grade school age kids have the muscle control to control their bodies like junior high and high school kids do. Furthermore, kids playing against each other with large differences in weight and skill level is a significant contributor to injuries. If a child suffers ligament damage at an early age, or even an MCL tear, they may never fully recover. It could have lifelong effects. Dr. Nielson recommends having your school age kids play flag football until they reach middle school. They will be able to develop football specific skills with a significantly smaller risk of severe injury. Injury prevention is key.

Pop Warner Little Scholars Youth Football

According to their web site (, Pop Warner youth football is the largest youth football league in the world with an estimated 325,000 participants and teams in 42 states. Age groups vary by state, but kids can start as early as age 5.

Pop Warner sets and enforces a strict age/weight matrix that reduces the risk and realities of injuries. Pop Warner football claims they have 12% fewer injuries per capita among 5-15 year olds than organized soccer in the same age range.

The survey polled more than 3,600 parents and coaches involved in Pop Warner youth sports and revealed head injury prevention and the lack of balanced nutrition for young athletes were among the top concerns of parents. The survey also revealed that the top benefits of participation in youth sports were making new friends, sportsmanship, and developing leadership skills.

Charles Welde is the Wide Receivers Coach at Victor Valley College and has a Masters Degree in Exercise Science from the University of Oklahoma. He can be reached at

Life Bridge Kids Welcomes New Doctor

Life Bridge Kids is pleased to announce that Michelle Fontenelle-Gilmer M.D. has joined the new practice and will commence seeing patients in their new location at Tivoli Village Center.

One of the objectives of Life Bridge Kids is to help address the shortage of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists in Las Vegas. The focus of the practice will be helping patients on the Autism Spectrum, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, among other disorders.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Fontenelle to Life Bridge Kids,” said Cory Weaver Managing Director for the Clinic. “Dr. Fontenelle provides a great blend of top-notch clinical acumen with a strong passion for providing community-based care. I believe parents of her child & adolescent patients will be pleasantly surprised when they discover not only her skill as a clinician but also her ability to advocate on their behalf in navigating community and educational resources.”

“She has a particular interest in helping children with developmental disabilities and trauma‑related diagnoses.”

Dr. Fontenelle-Gilmer received her educational training in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry from Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston. She also received educational training at John Hopkins University, Sheppard Pratt Hospital, and the University of Maryland. She is board certified in General Psychiatry, and the subspecialty of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She has also held a variety of positions in both inpatient and outpatient settings while providing instruction to primary care doctors to help them assess and manage psychiatric health concerns within their patient populations.

Dr. Fontenelle-Gilmer has experience in treating a multitude of psychiatric disorders. She has a particular interest in helping children with developmental disabilities and trauma-related diagnoses.

While Dr. Fontenelle-Gilmer has a conservative approach to medication management, she recognizes that each child and each family is unique, so treatment while being evidence based needs to be individually tailored in order to achieve emotional and behavioral success.

Life Bridge Kids is a newly established direct care outpatient psychiatric practice dedicated to helping children, adolescents and their families manage psychiatric disorders. The clinic’s objective is to help children find the tools to manage their disability while also bringing focus to their individual strengths.

For more information on Life Bridge Psychiatry or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fontenelle-Gilmer call (702) 765-4965 or visit

Struggling with Serious Teenage Weight Gain

Teen self-image and confidence can take a beating during the crucial identity years if a teen is even slightly overweight. Remember how cruel peers can be at that age. With bullying at an all-time high, our teens suffer from a great deal of peer criticism as well as self-criticism. The result can be very tragic if not recognized and addressed by the parents.

Perception and Self-Image

While you may not feel that your teen is overweight, an individual’s perception can often be very different. During the identity years, teens can perceive themselves in a very hypercritical way. As if it were not enough to be harshly judged by peers, a teen can often see their own situations as life and death circumstances.

What Can You Do As A Parent?

Encourage your teen to choose a path of moderation in daily routines, as opposed to extremes. For example, cutting calories too much can result in loss of health and even more weight gain afterward. Making moderate changes can be easier to adhere to and more successful in the long run.

Send your teen to a summer camp with focus on healthy nutrition habits and exercise. A smaller camp that allows a more hands-on approach to teaching food selection and meal preparation will teach habits for life. The behavioral patterns that have resulted in weight gain must be changed in order to lose weight and keep it off. Old habits must be replaced with new healthier ones.

Are You Sabotaging Your Teen’s Eating Habits?

Too often parents think that they must provide unhealthy snack foods when there are children in the house. This causes temptation for all family members to eat less nutritious foods that cause weight gain and loss of energy. The entire family can benefit by keeping only healthy food choices in the home. There can be occasional splurges outside the home, and if infrequent it will not cause weight gain.

Does Calorie Counting Help?

People are more likely to binge when they are feeling deprived. Restricting calories may yield rapid weight loss but it tends to cause binging later on resulting in even greater weight gain than what was lost. Also, the slowing of one’s metabolism from calorie reduction is the body’s way of conserving energy when it is not properly fueled. Eating a variety of low-calorie, fresh, unprocessed foods will increase vitality and reduce excess body fat.

Why Teens Should Not Diet

Calorie deprivation during formative years can be detrimental to growth and development. Teach growing teenagers to eat from a variety of unprocessed whole foods limiting snack foods and fast food. Good study habits and nutrition go hand in hand for brain fuel and ability to focus attention.

How Important is Exercise for Weight Loss?

Activity is important to the metabolism and so is nutrition. During a teen’s formative years, the motor patterns developed at a young age assist in mastering many of life’s tasks with ease. Cross training with different activities will improve a teen’s weaker areas and teach goal achievement. Trying a variety of activities often leads to discovering that new challenges can quickly become favorite past times.

How Important is Variety?

Variety in diet and exercise are vital for optimal health. Few people, especially teens, can eat the same foods and perform the same activities without becoming bored. Boredom with food selection can likely lead to binging on unhealthy choices. Teaching your teen to make good choices and to prepare their own meals puts them in charge. Nothing works better than letting your teen prepare a favorite recipe for friends and family. Send your teen to a class or a camp that offers hands-on training in the kitchen.

Teach by Example

There should be no double standards set for your teen to follow. The example that parents and other mentoring adults can demonstrate by lifestyle offers a rich lesson. Show teens that the choices they make and habits they develop now will serve them for a lifetime. Promote this by choosing a summer camp that places a focus on healthy lifestyle and not just specific sports skills.

How Important Are Sports Camps for Teenagers?

Studies show that by the age of 15, 80% of teenagers have dropped out of competitive sports. Only an elite few have made the cut to continue, because high school coaches are very selective in who is chosen for the playing field. Where does that leave your teenager? In choosing a camp, place an emphasis on sports conditioning rather than sports specific skills. Even if your teenager is still playing sports, many coaches only devote time to the specific sports skills. A well rounded sports conditioning program can increase a player’s sports performance and help prevent injuries.

Teenager Identity

Even if your teen is actively involved in a sport, self-image can waffle according to sport performance and team success. Young people who identify with their own uniqueness enjoy a more consistent sense of well-being that is not contingent on sports success. Those who drop out of their favorite childhood sport due to increased competition or injury may suffer a sense of unworthiness and depression. Promote individual skills and interests outside of sports to equip your teenager with the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs. When a teenager develops a sense of mastery and a unique skills set, they will enjoy a greater sense of self-worth. Forming a positive self-identity will fortify them when facing the game of life.

The Challenge of Raising Student Athletes

My kids have played two sports each since they were 5 years old and now at the age of 15 and 12 they have found the balance of being a student-athlete, life as a parent of a student-athlete gets pretty crazy between work school and sports. Sometimes we forget that kids have a hard time finding balance between sports and school as well. Athletes are often good leaders and are naturally drawn to school activities. Yet the time and energy requirements of sports and school can leave kids drained. Talk to your kids about limiting extracurricular school clubs, committees, and leadership and service organizations (at least during sport seasons), to prevent impending burnout.

Sports are definitely a time and energy commitment, yet their benefits far exceed the disadvantages. Through sports, kids learn cooperation, endurance, dependability, competition, motivation, and teamwork. They also build self esteem and confidence, and help kids develop healthy, active lifestyles.

Yet, the time investment involved in sports can cause our kids to fall behind in school if we’re not careful. As a parent, academics are usually number one student-athlete is what I preach in my household. The best thing you can give your kids is a well-rounded education that teaches them hard work and its rewards, and gives them a foundation for future careers and interests. Finding balance is hard enough as an adult, but it’s just as challenging for kids when they’re active with both school and sports. Teaching them to manage their time, energy, supplies, and activities will go a long way to finding that balance — and allow them to find success in both endeavors. Here are four great suggestions for parents on how to balance the daily life of a student-athlete that has really helped me and my kids.

1. Limit the number of sports

Many kids who play sports enjoy different kinds. But to avoid year-long chaos, allow your child to choose only one or two sports they enjoy the most. This allows them to focus their energy in a few areas, while enabling time for school work, and lessening the time and financial burden of multiple sports.

2. Find time to unwind

Despite their responsibilities with sports and school, kids need to find time to be kids. If your family is always on the go, set aside a day, weekend, or a few hours to simply unwind, play, and relax. Use these times to find balance, reconnect as a family and find the motivation to get back to the grind Monday morning.

3. Stay organized

Between book bags, duffel bags, school shoes and cleats, organization is a priority when your kids play sports. Helping your kids stay organized with their equipment and school supplies – both at home, at school, and in the car – will help them juggle all their activities successfully, and without the stress of clutter. Create separate areas to store their supplies for different activities so they’re always in the same place.

4. Discuss homework options

When late-night games keep kids out past bedtime, homework is the last thing on their minds. Plan homework options with your kids so they can complete necessary schoolwork even when time is short. Discuss options for noise-reducing headphones, completing homework before or after practices, or while on the bus to an away game. If necessary, older kids can talk to their teachers about extended deadlines if school-sponsored sports keep them at away games late.

Mark Hays played football for UNLV from 1997 to 2000. He has coached youth football and basketball locally for the past 13 years. This fall Mr Hays’ daughter will be in the 10th grade at Bishop Gorman, and his son will be in the 8th grade at Del Webb Middle School.

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