Teachers and student smiling in classroom.

DDI's Children's Residential Program Unveils New Miniature Golf Course

The state-of-the-art course will provide children served by DDI and their families many hours of enjoyment.  Additionally, it will serve as a teaching opportunity for social, recreational and physical skill development thanks to the generous donations from family and friends to the Dr. John J. and Mary S. Werner Children's Benefit Fund. 

DDI’s Children's Residential Program (CRP) provides individualized education and support to children with developmental disabilities between the ages of 5 to 21 whose needs exceed what can be addressed by traditional special education services.  In celebration of their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, the children of John and Mary Werner created a foundation that will enhance many young lives of those served by DDI. 

With the generosity of friends and family, the foundation funded the fantastic course and dedicated it to the children and their families who call the CRP home.  With the help of JMF Contracting Inc. and the Finn family, construction began this summer and golfers are par for the course.  The new nine-hole course also features a shaded swing area, as well as seating on the perimeter for spectators.

golf collage

“On August 1st, 1973 John began his career at DDI and continued to dedicate his professional life for 38 years as an educational and administrative leader during times of significant growth,” commented Phil Veneziano, Chairman of DDI Board.  “It is no surprise that DDI’s Children’s program has been designated as a New York Center of Excellence.  Since his retirement from DDI, John has continued to support the mission of DDI through his role on the Board of Directors. With the help of his wife Mary, daughters Kirstin and Jessica and his son Justin we are grateful for the dedication of this miniature golf course for the children at DDI and their families to enjoy for years to come.”

The miniature golf course is a welcome new space for the children in the residential and education programs at the DDI's Smithtown campus.  This recreation area will encourage children to have fun outdoors in the fresh air while improving concentration and attention to task, fostering collaborative teamwork and providing a focus for team events between different classes or residences.

“It is important for parents to have a place to bring their children when they come to visit the CRP, “added Dr. John Werner.  “A place where they can teach them and work with them on learning a skill in a safe and familiar environment.  Once the child and family are comfortable, they can enjoy this activity in the community together.”

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