Hohenfels plans new FMWR initiatives
October 31, 2008
HOHENFELS, Germany - The Soldiers of U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels strive to provide American and international troops access to one of the premier military training sites worldwide, while at the same time remaining ready themselves to deploy whenever and wherever needed.
Civilian employees and family members here also endeavor to support these Soldiers in those tasks.
And to ensure this Army community has access to the type of facilities and programs they have earned, the garrison - in unveiling plans for numerous new Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation initiatives - aims to make certain those who work and live here are being taken care of at a level that matches their service, said garrison officials.
Lead by Hohenfels' new FMWR Director Stacye Downing, a 12-year veteran of the MWR business, the initiatives will provide new or improved opportunities for every member of the community - from young children and their parents to teens, single Soldiers and everyone in between.
Candy Land in the CAC
The Community Activities Center will see multiple changes in a few months, including a Kid's Zone playground that is scheduled to open in February.
The candy-themed playground is for children ages 3 and older.
Overall, there are 1,200 children at Hohenfels, with 80 percent of them in grades six and below. They need a better place to play, said Downing.
"I love doing things for kids," she said. "I think part of it is being an Army brat. I'm really excited to work on another Kid's Zone project." The Hohenfels playground is the fifth of its kind that Downing has implemented at various installations.
The structure will be located indoors, where the teen center was formerly located, allowing children to use it year-round. Plus there will be trampolines for use.
Pam Koch, Exceptional Family Member Program coordinator, said the Little Troopers playgroup plans to hold meetings there once construction is finished, as they currently get together in the Child Development Center Annex.
"It will give them more opportunity to climb and run around, even in bad weather. I think it will give them a lot more activities that they can do, which will help with their motor skills," she said.
While the kids are playing, parents can grab themselves a Starbucks coffee at a Java CafAfA that is planned to open in March.
An FMWR-branded restaurant, Java CafAfA, which will be housed in the CAC, features the "We Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee" program. Pastries, bagels, and sandwiches will most likely be available, with the goal of making the Java CafAfA a popular break destination here.
Customers on the go will appreciate the drive-through option, a first for Hohenfels.
And Internet access and multi-player online games aim to keep the cafe a popular spot well past lunch time.
According to Downing and Lt. Col. Garry Bloomberg, commander of USAG Hohenfels, Outdoor Recreation programs here can expect to see lots of attention in upcoming years.
The first: A plan to convert the fitness center into a state-of-the-art indoor paintball arena complete with light and sound displays. Downing says construction is expected to begin within two months of the fitness center closure, which is projected for spring 2009.
Even before the paintball arena opens, Downing said she hopes to have a new project up and running that will have All Terrain Vehicles zooming though the woods of Hohenfels.
Warrior Adventure Quest, a high-adventure recreation program created though a partnership between the Army FMWR Command and the Office of the Surgeon General, is aimed at helping redeploying Soldiers transition from the combat zone with an intense physical recreation program designed to reduce high-risk behaviors.
As garrisons Armywide have worked to integrate the program, they have incorporated activities such as white water rafting and mountain biking. Hohenfels will be the first garrison in Europe to purchase and use ATVs as part of the program.
Kurt Hahn, outdoor recreation director, has been named as the new garrison representative for Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers to maximize the coordination between ODR and single Soldiers, one of its biggest audiences.
"Outdoor rec is not just equipment check out; it wants to be your destination for adventure," Downing said.
Currently, patrons must be at least 18 to use the fitness center, or have an adult chaperon. Child and Youth Services and the Sports and Fitness staff of MWR are working on a program that will allow younger teens to complete a course that will certify them to use the facility on their own.
Rick Ruiz, youth center director, said the multi-session program, taught by a member of the fitness staff, will focus on assorted aspects of fitness, including health, nutrition and weight training.
According to Chris Cornelison, sports and fitness chief, after completing a health assessment and initial training, participants will receive a certificate of completion and sign a code of conduct. Plus they will also receive a membership card, which will be valid for one year and must be presented upon entrance.
"This is a much-needed program for teens in our community; we're excited to be able to offer it," said Cornelison.
His staff is also working to increase fitness class offerings, beginning Nov. 4 with bicycle spin classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Zone.
Kareem Braithwaite, also new to the FMWR team and a fitness coordinator, said he is eager to build participation in the fitness classes. "Fitness is no longer a hobby, it has to be a lifestyle," he said.
The Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills is the framework for all Army CYS instructional programs. The program is designed to complement, expand and support the academic, life skills and athletic experiences children and youth have within Army CYS programs and schools.
The most challenging of all the upcoming FMWR plans, SKIES classes are dependent upon the availability of instructors. Accordingly, Downing says she is aggressively pursuing additional instructors, both on and off post.
Currently, only ballet is offered - and the instructor is expected to leave the area soon.
Downing hopes to partner with the Chris Wittl music school in nearby Parsberg for music classes. Along with dance, music is one of the most requested SKIES programs, said Laurie Jackson, administration assistant for Child & Youth Services Liaison and Outreach Services.
Jackson noted that parents also frequently request martial arts and gymnastics classes.
Downing said martial arts are included in the defined program offerings, and he hopes to offer it at Hohenfels.
According to Bloomberg, these upcoming initiatives represent a renewed emphasis on FMWR and single Soldier programming.
"The initiatives demonstrate the commitment of the Army and Installation Management Command to the Hohenfels community," the garrison commander said, stressing that without IMCOM funding none of these projects would be possible.
Bloomberg also noted that without community input, ideas for the projects would never have been generated.
"All these improvements came from ideas in the community," he said. The community needs to let us know when we're doing things wrong, and when we're doing things right."