Teen Army Family Action Plan conference a 'total success'
December 16, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- In the 1963 movie "Bye Bye Birdie," actor Paul Lynde, portraying dad Harry McAfee, sang a lament titled "What's The Matter With Kids Today'"
Today, the answer would have to be "absolutely nothing" judging by the teens participating in the Teen Army Family Action Plan conference held Dec. 3 at the Dodd Field Chapel.
With 24 teens from Cole, Steele and Wagner High Schools participating, the conference was deemed a total success by all parties involved.
"You represent every military child out there in the San Antonio area," Col. Mary Garr, 502nd Mission Support Group commander, said to the teen audience. "The good ideas and the comments you give us today will tell us how we can improve your time at Fort Sam Houston. You are making a difference."
Following the opening remarks, the students were given the goals and objectives of the conference.
After dividing the teens into three groups, facilitators, recorders and delegates huddled around tables brainstorming and discussing AFAP issues.
Submitted by the students, the issues involved subjects like the need for more youth activities and the need for advertisement of and transportation to said activities. Also discussed were more employment opportunities for teens beyond the Fort Sam Houston perimeter and the need for more recreational activities such as a paintball course and skate park on the main post, just to name a few items.
On hand to oversee discussions were subject matter experts from the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District, Cole High School faculty and counseling services, as well as Youth Services.
AFAP program manager Grace Martinez and a number of volunteers were on hand to keep the delegates on track and help guide the debates. The teens were instructed to present a point of view and act as the decision makers.
The teens themselves were the most important part of the conference, but volunteers made up a majority of the conference workers and their dedication and caring made the conference a success.
The day-long Teen AFAP ended with an out-brief and issues were reported, with 12 issues discussed and prioritized.
Closing the conference, Garr told the teens that, "We take each suggestion seriously and we will see how we can better improve your lives. Thank you. Great ideas!"
The students were then presented certificates of participation by Garr and Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, commanding general, U.S. Army North.
All the issues will be presented to subject matter experts and their validity will be determined before being forward to the Department of the Army AFAP conference.
To find out more about the issues the teens discussed, call (210) 221-2611.