FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Dan Degrave, Automotive Skills Center worker, teaches his group how to assemble a bicycle during the EDGE! program's "Pedal On" class Tuesday at the Automotive Skills Center. Annelisa Walter (left), 9, daughter of Elisabeth and Maj. Douglas Walter, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; Elena Raugh (left), 6, daughter of Cyndi and Lt. Col. Dave Raugh, 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1-25th SBCT; and Faith Smith (right), 6, daughter of Franchesca and Sgt. 1st Class Atwon Thompkins, Medical Department Activity - Alaska, worked as a group to assemble Smith's bike before moving on to the others.

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Editor's Note: In conjunction with the Month of the Military Child, the Alaska Post will present the different components of Child, Youth and School Services programs and services in a month-long series. This week's story explores CYSS care and programming for children ages 6 to 10.

Fort Wainwright's month-long celebration of military children continues and Child, Youth and School Services agencies and programs are pulling out all the stops to show the children and families they serve how special they are, not just during April's Month of the Military Child celebration, but the rest of the year, too.

CYSS School Age Services takes the lead in providing regular care and programming for 6 to 10 year-olds. For the almost 200 children who attend their before and after school programs, April offers new projects like a "Flat Stanley" doll and journal exchange with the SAS at U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii, an opportunity to read to younger children at the Child Development Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of America environmental projects and recycled art projects, said Adam Johnson, SAS assistant director.

Johnson, who grew up as a military "brat," or the child of a military parent, said that he and the SAS staff form strong bonds with the children in their care and believe it's important to celebrate them.

"(Celebrating them) is important to us," he said. "I see what these kids do; what they go through. About 85 percent of our kids went through a deployment last year and they just (keep) trucking through it."

SAS offers before and after school care that includes a wide variety of activities and programs from gardening, sewing, scrapbooking and cooking clubs to field trips and 4H and BGCA programming. SAS offers something for every child's interest, said Brenda Salmon, SAS program lead.

Children choose their activities when they arrive at SAS each day and can select from the game room, arts and crafts room, computer lab, science room and performing arts room, as well as the gym, which doubles as the snack room, Johnson said.

While space may be at a premium now, the new SAS facility is set to open by the end of the year and will provide a state-of-the-art facility to the children they serve, said Tammy L. Ford, CYSS coordinator.

The new building is part of a standard design concept and will mirror SAS facilities at other installations. "It's continuity for our military children to know that whenever they pass that building they can say, 'hey, that's the SAS building,'" Ford said.

Summer, winter and spring camps are also available at SAS when school is not in session.

In addition to SAS services, CYSS offers very popular sports programs including football, indoor and outdoor soccer, t-ball and baseball, and basketball through Youth Sports and Fitness, Ford said.

"This is the prime market with Youth Sports and Fitness," she explained. "Our largest population is in that 6 to 10 year-old range."

The School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills program offers a variety of age-appropriate activities for children from horseback riding to tae kwon do and can build on skill levels they have developed in SKIES classes they took previously.

"Instead of an entry level for tae kwon do, you might be intermediate," Ford said.
New to CYSS, the Explore, Develop, Grow and Excel program offers "outside the box" programming for children who may not be involved in other CYSS programs as well as those who currently participate in their activities, Ford said.

"What they are looking for is a cutting edge program," said Heather Bauer, CYSS program operations specialist. "Not what we're doing in sports; not what we're doing in SKIES."

EDGE! seeks to incorporate several Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities to introducing children and their families to a wide variety of activity options on Fort Wainwright.

"Instead of just focusing on snowboarding, you could focus on snow for a month," Bauer explained. "So maybe for the first week we cross-country ski on the snow with Outdoor Recreation and then the second week we go tubing down the hill (at Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area) and the third week we go over to Arts and Crafts and we do something with snow over there."

April's popular EDGE! class, "Pedal On," offers a month-long class during which 6 to 10 year-old children will build a bicycle, learn bike safety and maintenance and take the new bike home with them at the end of the month, all for a minimal cost, said Brandy Ostanik, MWR partnership specialist and EDGE! program manager.

EDGE! classes planned for May include "Disgusting Science," Mondays at the Last Frontier Community Activity Center, "Bedroom Makeover," Wednesdays at the LFCC and "Birdhouse Making," Fridays at the Arts and Crafts Center.

CYSS is always changing and adapting to Fort Wainwright's specific population and needs, Ford said. Providing safe, fun and effective care and programming is always on their minds during the Month of the Military Child and year-round. "It's about coming together and figuring out how we can bring programs that touch a lot of families and Soldiers to our community," she said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16