It all began six years ago with cookies and lemonade, the summer before Olivia Ohlson turned 10. 

Olivia Ohlson, ETHS sophomore, athlete, activist and organizer of Diversify Golf. Credit: Najiah Osborne

Olivia’s stand raised more than $10,000 for breast cancer research soon after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Being part of change wasn’t new for Olivia. Her family has always prioritized giving back to the community. And she is an athlete, playing basketball, golf and soft ball.

The now 15-year-old Evanston Township High School rising sophomore also runs Diversify Golf, a program that teaches children of all backgrounds the basics of the sport.

Diversify Golf is held at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center for kids attending camp.

She is hoping to reach young girls of color, but everyone is welcome.

“A lot of my students don’t know about golf at all,” said Olivia, so her work is “all about informing people and diversifying” the sport.

Olivia schedules and teaches youngsters in the program and brings in adult guests to mentor and teach the kids and talk about how they got interested in golf. She also has help from ETHS freshman Belaye Hughes, sophomores Miles Gustafson and Molly O’Hare, who are volunteers and work with Olivia.

“I usually have two to four youth volunteers come out and help me everyday. We get the kids out here and teach them basic skills, and teach them a lot about the game like what clubs are called, what they’re used for, how to hit a club. I have kids that don’t even know what a course is.” Olivia said.

Diversity Golf volunteers (from left) Belaye Hughes, Olivia Ohlson, Miles Gustafson and Molly O’Hare. Credit: Najiah Osborne

Although she has plans to go on to college, Olivia hopes to also see the outcomes and benefits of her golfing program in the near future. “I have a lot of community service hours logged at school, but it’s not about the hours, it’s all about the impact. I ‘m really hoping to see the game of golf bring other kids joy like it has done for me,” Olivia said.

In the fall, Olivia plans to be on the golf team and volunteer as an ambassador for incoming freshman. 

“I play three sports, and do homework between practice, while doing community service on the weekends.” she said. 

Olivia’s hard work has not gone without notice. She was nominated by ETHS Athletic Director Chris Livatino for an ESPY award.

The projects she has participated in have shaped who she is today. Olivia said, “Seeing my impact is what inspires me to keep going.”  

Olivia hopes to be a biomedical engineer and she has always wanted to be a doctor. “With engineering I like to make stuff and build things. I’m interested in being part of creating processes and tools for medicine.” Olivia said. 

In an interview with ABC News, Olivia said, “Community service is essential to personal growth.”

Najiah Osborne is an intern with the Evanston RoundTable. Currently a student at Augustana College, she graduated from ETHS in 2021.

2 replies on “Sports, activism, education excellence all add up to ETHS sophomore Olivia Ohlson”

  1. I agree with Corey Osborne! Great news coverage and very impressive how Olivia manages 3 sports and creating community service projects that make a difference in people’s lives all while pursuing a degree in bioengineering!

  2. Excellent article Great work Olivia I wish you the best in your promising successful future Excellent article Najiah Osborne .

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