Kid's stuff: Month celebrates military children
March 31, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- For the 25th year, the military will salute the children of service members by celebrating April as Month of the Military Child. In accordance with this year's theme - Celebrate Military Children: The Strength of our Future - Fort Jackson Child, Youth and School Services has planned a myriad of events appropriate for all age groups.
"I think it's important to celebrate Month of the Military Child because there are a lot of things that are exclusive to military children, for example having their dad or their mom deployed, their parents not being able to go to all of their events and activities ... and sometimes feeling they don't always have the camaraderie with not always being in the same place all the time," said Cindy Andre-Noel, CYSS Outreach Services director. "They still need to realize that they're appreciated as children and not feel like they're forgotten about."
Planning for the events started in November, and this year's schedule includes familiar staples, such as the Family Fun Fair, as well as special events, such as a concert by the band Allstar Weekend, which gained popularity on the Disney Channel's show "Disney's N.B.T."
Fort Jackson is one of five installations chosen to host the band, Andre-Noel said.
"It's something (Fort Jackson children) typically may not be able to go to, especially on a training (installation) because parents work long hours," she said.
Whereas the concert is primarily aimed at teenagers, younger children will be able to participate in the fun during events offered at the installation's child development homes.
Pamela Patterson, director of Hood Street Child Development Center, said the events, such as an ice cream social, are open to parents and are aimed at strengthening the bonds between parents and children and between children and their peers.
"With so much going on today (in the military), it's a way to bring the families together and the children together as well," Patterson said. "The children love to see their parents coming in, especially if they're new, because (it can be) a hard transition for them."
Parents and other community members will also have the chance to be involved in the other activities throughout the month. Andre-Noel said that a number of volunteer opportunities are available, ranging from spending an hour stuffing Easter eggs to providing crowd control at the concert.
"I think it's a rewarding experience," Andre-Noel said. "Interacting with children sometimes helps people realize all the things you go through as an adult are important, but children give you back that youth and that enjoyment and that fulfilling experience of doing something in the course of the day that's not all about you. They always seem to find a way to make you laugh and make you forget about everything else that's troubling you in the course of the day."
Andre-Noel, who is also a military spouse and the mother of two children, said she is happy to be involved in providing events to military families.
"It's always rewarding, as a mom, to see something (offered) that my child would want to go to and I would want to take my child to," she said. "I think sometimes people think that as military families we get it all. To me, we don't necessarily get it all; we sacrifice more than we get. And people tend to forget that."
Editor's note: Community members interested in volunteering should contact Andre-Noel at 751-4869.
Month of the Military Child events
* April Foolish Dog Show, 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Youth Sports Complex. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m.
* Spirit Week, Monday through April 8, Hood Street Child Development Center, daily activities for patrons
* Health Rocks, 6:30 to 9 p.m., April 8, Youth Services Center
* Allstar Weekend concert, April 16, 7 to 10 p.m., Youth Services Center
* Family child care/CD home picnic, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., April 22, Youth Sports Complex
* Spring Jamboree and Easter Egg Hunt, 10 a.m. to noon, April 23, Youth Sports Complex
* Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt, 8 p.m., April 23, Youth Services Center, for middle school students and teenagers
* Parent luncheons, 11 a.m. to noon, Scales Avenue Child Development Center
* Military Child Appreciation Day, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., April 27, Youth Services Center
* Hood Street parade, 9 to 9:30 a.m., April 29, Hood Street CDC
* CYSS Month of the Military Child Fun Fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 30, Hilton Field
All events are free. For more information, call 751-4869.