MIAMI (CBSMiami) — John Barnes is a happy go lucky 18-year-old who loves hanging around the house with his twin brother, Jonathan and grandparents in Lauderhill.
When he’s not with them, Jonathan loves to hit the links.
Barnes is part of a unique mentoring program called Fore Life which is a non-profit organization that uses the game of golf and its character building skills to empower vulnerable youth to help them survive and succeed.
“They showed me support and guided me every step of the way,” said Barnes.
The program is the brainchild of Paula Pearson-Tucker. She herself came from a troubled youth until a chance round of golf challenged her to become a better person.
“I excelled in the game of golf and I just wanted to use that sport. I know the difference it made in my life, and I knew it could make a difference in the lives of kids,” said Pearson-Tucker.
Now her program is designed to teach kids life skills through the meticulous and challenging sport of golf.
“Because I was a kid that got in a lot of trouble when I was younger so that’s kind of my calling to make sure kids get the opportunities – if I didn’t have those opportunities I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” said Pearson-Tucker.
Sometimes kids are brought to the program by their parents, but others like Barnes, are routed here by the juvenile justice system.
At first, Barnes admits, he did not take the program seriously, but he says the attitudes of the counselors changed him.
“They showed me how to respect other people. They took me out and I was actually having fun,” said Barnes.
Now, he relishes the chance to be an example for the younger kids.
As for the program director, this is a labor of love.
She says, at the end of the day, the connection with the kids and the changes she sees in their lives make the effort worthwhile.
“Kids just want to know that you care and each one of these kids know bottom line I love each and every one of them,”Pearson-Tucker.
To learn more about Fore Life, and how you can get involved, click here.