Douglas Mejia’s favorite sport is soccer.
But starting Monday, and perhaps through the end of this week, the 9-year-old might have found an affinity for golf.
Thanks to Derfelt Elementary principal Greg Mingo, Mejia was one of 100 Derfelt fourth-graders who participated in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open’s Clark County School District Day. America First Credit Union, NV Energy, Visionworks, The First Tee of Southern Nevada, Subway and TPC Summerlin partnered with CCSD to offer the students a field trip chock full of interactive and unique educational experiences.
Mejia has diabetes, but after Mingo took the necessary steps to become a medical backup in the case of emergency and to administer insulin, the youngster was assured a spot on the field trip to TPC Summerlin on Monday morning.
“We like to make as many accommodations as possible to include all students; we just want to make sure they’re safe,” said Rebecca Rullis, Mejia’s teacher. “Douglas just kind of rolls with it; in class he knows when he needs to go get his blood sugar tested. He goes to the office immediately and does it. It doesn’t interrupt any of our learning. He’s just accepted it as part of his life, and he deals with it and it doesn’t affect his learning.”
And like clockwork, during a lunch break at the golf course, Mejia went to a private area with Mingo to test his blood-sugar levels and instructed his principal exactly how much insulin he needed at the time.
“Mom had him prepared, and sent lunch with him,” Mingo said. “When you open up the lid on his lunch, the inside cover had carbs listed by item and totaled on the calculation sheet.”
For Mejia, it was pretty cut and dried on the day’s activities, and his first time swinging a golf club.
“It’s hard to do it because I never did that before,” Mejia said. “But it was great that me and my friends were able to play golf together.”
Mejia and his peers got out of the classroom to receive hands-on learning, rotating in groups through various breakout areas to learn important curriculum requirements through up-close, practical application.
“For us, it’s about exposing them to a world they may have never even seen on television,” Shriners Open tournament director Adam Sperling said. “To bring ’em out here, put a golf club in their hand and continue to provide core curriculum that they’d be receiving if they were in school, but in a really neat setting. It allows us to focus on the kids in the community for one of the days this week.”
Subway provided lunch for the students, teachers and volunteers. Visionworks provided basic vision screening and offered complimentary follow-up eye exams and glasses to students who need them. America First Credit Union provided guidance in financial literacy, teaching youths how to fill out checks and balance the souvenir checkbooks they received. NV Energy taught the students lessons on energy efficiency inside its renewable energy demonstration trailer, while providing tips for being safe around electricity.
“What they’re learning here today is how solar power, wind power and other efficiency measures that they can use in their house, how that’s helpful,” said Andrea Smith, spokesperson for NV Energy. “Most of all to stay safe around electricity, that’s a big issue for us. We want to make sure that they’re staying safe around electricity. It’s actually very interesting that they know more than we think they do when they walk up. It’s a great opportunity for us to tell them a little bit more about what they can do at home, to stay safe, to use energy more efficiently, and they get to have a little fun while they’re out here, too.”
The students also got a chance to swing clubs on the driving range, as TPC Summerlin and The First Tee of Southern Nevada offered golf instruction.
“This was a great opportunity for our kids in many regards, as we’re learning some life skills here,” Mingo said. “Just in general, seeing service-orientated entities giving back to our community, seeing our kids get to participate in that, that’s pretty darn neat.”