Bergen, Phi Theta Kappa, Stepping Stones Create Adult Adaptive Mini-Golf

Members of Bergen Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) are making golf more accessible for everybody.

bergen community college, disabilities, mini golf,

As a part of PTK’s international community service theme of “the art and science of play,” students created accessible miniature golf courses for adults with intellectual disabilities. 

While developing the project, members of the honor society played mini-golf with Bergen Community College’s Turning Point Program for intellectually disabled adults. In addition, they also visited the USGA Golf Museum in Liberty Corner, N.J. 

Grant Funding, Stepping Stones Partnership

The adaptive golf courses were developed with a $1,000 grant awarded to the students from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds were used to develop two accessible and portable sensory mini golf courses in collaboration with Bergen County Special Services School District’s Stepping Stones Program.  

“The work of Bergen PTK has provided our adult clients accessibility to a sport that may otherwise not have been possible and we cannot thank them enough for it,” said Stepping Stones Adult Service Manager, Katie Conte.

“This is an example of how meaningful the connections made through Bergen Community College are to the surrounding community,” Conte added. 

Special Adaptive Features

Some features of the accessible mini-golf course include textured golf club handles, colorful hazards along the course with a musical golf cup. In addition, the students created “Golf is for Everyone” t-shirts that will be distributed to the Stepping Stone participants. 

“It has been such a pleasure to be able to serve my community and to use my hobbies to help others,” said Bergen PTK student Matthew Paccione, of Dumont.

“I am very thankful to be able to contribute my engineering skills and apply my knowledge toward a project like this which will go on to have a meaningful impact in the lives of the Stepping Stones clients,” Paccione said.

Impacting the Community 

The students of PTK collaborated on the project to ensure the grant’s receipt, the research conduct, the coordination with the Stepping Stones program and ultimately the design and construction of the courses.  

“To make golf more accessible to all, our students worked tirelessly for months performing research, designing a course, engineering never-before-seen prototypes, and communicating with local partners,” Bergen PTK and Honors Coordinator Anna Gergen said. “We are so proud of their hard work, which had an immediate and visible impact on their local community.” 

Bergen Community College is a public community college headquartered in Paramus and offers a wide range of academic programs and services, including degree and certificate programs, continuing education courses, and student support services. Bergen Community College also has locations in Hackensack and Lyndhurst.