Practice Makes Perfect
Alexa Gonzalez practices tumbling moves during a Fort Lee SKIES dance session while Alisa Bondurant, SKIES instructor, assists.

Karate. Dance. Art classes. Bumper bowling. Pet care classes.

Those are just a few of the classes Fort Lee's SKIES program offers to children registered under the Children, Youth and School Services Program.

"Under the SKIES umbrella, we have four schools of instruction: School of Arts, School of Sports, School of Lifeskills and School of Academics," said Chaundra Taswell, SKIES director. "It's an Army-mandated program used to ensure the CYSS classes have consistency, availability, affordability and quality."

Taswell said they are constantly looking for new classes to offer Fort Lee youth.

"We have ongoing classes, and then we have classes that are scheduled one at a time, such as the new money management class we're offering Saturday," said Taswell. "We've done cooking classes, auto maintenance, bowling, dance classes, art and martial arts."

A major part of the success of the SKIES program is parent involvement, Taswell said.

"Parents need to interact with their kids," she said. "They need to motivate them to be part of the programs. Any time I can find a class that parents can attend with their children, I try to implement them."

It's also important to get children involved with programs such as these, said Taswell.

"Our extracurricular activities are important to children and youth," she said. "If nothing else, they promote cognitive and emotional development, develop lifeskills and develop character. It's our job to mentor our children to become productive members of society."

The SKIES program reaches out to the Fort Lee community to find class instructors.

"I try to reach to people on base to see if there are potential relationships available to provide instructional classes," said Taswell. "For example, the Fort Lee Credit Union is providing instruction for the money management class."

All CYSS programs fall are under the Army Family Covenant, which supports Families, said Taswell. An example of this support, said Taswell, can be found in the free classes SKIES offers to Families of deployed Soldiers.

"The Army Family Covenant is a great thing," said Taswell. "We all have to come together and find ways to reach out to our Families and their children."

Page last updated Wed November 26th, 2008 at 10:42