Baumholder community focuses on its children
April 29, 2014
Baumholder's Child, Youth and Schools Services teamed up with Army Community Service and the Baumholder schools recently to present a united front in the fight against child abuse and to raise awareness for autism.
With April being the Month of the Military Child, educators and caregivers ceased this opportunity to bring attention to the topics of child abuse and autism by coordinating a new and novel program to kick of the annual observance. For the first time, children from Smith and Wetzel Elementary schools participated in a volksmarch at Minick Field, followed by a signing of proclamations by Lt. Col. Mike Sullivan, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander, and Command Sgt. Major R. Scott Creighton, proclaiming the garrison's commitment to fighting child abuse and raising awareness for autism.
The volksmarch was led by the Baumholder High/Middle School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and the school's marching band.
After the march, Sullivan put the event into perspective for the children. "There are big events going on this month. Number one, it's the Month of the Military Child and you are all wonderful military children. Number two, we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent child abuse. And number three, we want to make sure everybody knows about autism, making people aware about what it is and how we can help all of our friends," said Sullivan.
Deployments are a fact of life in the military and Army Community Service Director Ricky Gibbons pointed out that children experience the same stress associated with deployments as adults but it is not always noticed.
"I think sometimes our children don't get the attention that they should. Military children undergo as much stress with deployments as the parents do. It's just that they manifest it a little bit differently. So it's really important for us to be aware how these kids operate in a military environment and do everything we can to support them," said Gibbons.
Jason Etchell, who heads up Baumholder's Child, Youth and Schools Service said that the Month of the Military Child provides an opportunity to think about what military children mean to the community. "I think it's a time just to reflect, particularly on how precious our children are, the contributions they make and the sacrifices they make. We think a lot about the spouses and the Soldiers but sometimes we may forget about the kids and this is really a month about our children -- protecting our children and celebrating them and really just recognizing the importance they play in the family and the quality of life here," said Etchell.
Sullivan also pointed out the importance of recognizing the sacrifices of military children to the parents, teachers and caregivers who participated in the opening ceremony events for the Month of the Military Child.
"Military children go through so much and too often we forget that they have to go through the same stressful experiences we do. The fact that we can take at least one month out of the year to recognize their valuable contributions and their invaluable experiences I think is absolutely critical," said Sullivan.