Fort Bragg program specialist leads SKIESUnlimited
October 8, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When Paul Driessen was a Soldier, he made his living as a combat engineer. After a decorated military career, Driessen moved from Germany to Fort Bragg in 2004, to run the School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited program as its instructional program specialist.
Started by the Department of Army in 2004, SKIESUnlimited is an instructional program that enables children and youth to expand their knowledge, inspire, explore and acquire new "schools." It is based on a four-school system. The schools are the school of sports, arts, life skills and academic skills, Driessen said.
As of September, Fort Bragg has more than 820 children enrolled in SKIESUnlimited, with participation increasing continuously. Instruction is offered in disciplines such as karate, gymnastics, golf, swimming, driver's education, culinary and biking academies and babysitting certification course, among others, Driessen said.
Amy Isom, an Army spouse and mother of four, works alongside Driessen everyday. She is his administrative assistant and as the mother of children, ages 3 to 11, she said she knows firsthand the benefits of the SKIESUnlimited program.
"I definitely utilize the program, so I definitely know it's nice," she said.
Until Isom began her job this past summer, in retrospect, she said she wonders how Driessen managed the program without an assistant.
Tasking duties such as updating the waiting list for youth to take SKIESUnlimited courses has now been assumed by Isom. It gives Driessen the opportunity to focus primarily on acquiring instructors.
"I get to now grow the program instead of taking leaps backwards," he said. "I think our numbers are just bursting."
Drissen comes to SKIESUnlimited from an extensive background in sports and management. While in Germany, he worked in adults sports and ran a fitness center. It was not too much of a change from obtaining a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Wisconsin in 1989 to finding a niche in youth services. In so many ways, SKIESUnlimited parallels the education field - it teaches children and youth leadership and social skills, as well as builds confidence.
"I think that it is important to meet a child's recreational/leisure needs through coaches and teachers who really advocate, nurture and challenge the youth where they are as individuals," he said by email.
SKIESUnlimited helps provide consistent scheduling of activities for children who deal with deployments, by building resiliency and coping skills that will serve them their entire life, Driessen added.
Driessen is a newly-married father of three; daughter, Anne is 16; son, Matthew, 12 and son, Daniel, 5. He has passed the love of sports along to his children, Anne and Matthew, who participated in tennis this summer at their respective schools.
Driessen said he looks forward to growing the SKIESUnlimited program by expanding into the Linden Oaks and Heritage Village housing areas in Harnett and Hoke counties. Other activities that could soon be added to SKIESUnlimited repertoire include jewelry making or beading, zumba and more golfing classes, he said.
Why should children and youth participate in SKIESUnlimited'
It is centrally located on the installation - its office is located at Tolson Youth Activities Center on Normandy Drive.
Any profits generated from the program go back into the community, Driessen said.
SKIESUnlimited is also good for something else - "it just breeds really high moral fiber in the kids," said Driessen.
For more information about the SKIESUnlimited program, visit the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website www.fortbragg.mwr.com.