SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Army youth relocating to Hawaii can ease into their new schools through the transition centers and Army Youth Sponsorship Program, or AYSP.

Army youth can find other students who have experienced military moves and deployments of parents.

Military children are often confronted with many challenges. For example, for Bailey Gilbert, who is currently a junior at Leilehua High School, transitioning to another school was bittersweet.

"It was difficult to leave old friends and make new friends," she said. "When I came to school, I was terrified of being unable to make friends and being alone all through high school."

Child, Youth and School Services oversees AYSP, and the program focuses on relocation, adjusting to a new school and life transitions through permanent changes of station and deployments.

"As a military kid from the beginning, I have lived in eight different states and been to six schools," said Kaitlyn Hawley, who is a junior at Leilehua High School.

"The most difficult transition that military children and youth experience is school transition, i.e., changing schools," according to the U.S. Army's Secondary Education Transition Study.

Lakedra Yarborough, a student at Radford High School, sponsors new students through AYSP. She makes new students feel at ease and provides relocation support like peer information about the schools, academics and sports through email or text messaging, months before their arrival.

"It's fun to help out other teens transitioning to Hawaii," she said.

"When I found out that our family was moving to Hawaii, I really felt unhappy at first, but that all changed when I got a youth sponsor from the (Aliamanu Military Reservation) AYSP," said Jasmine Moody, a student at Aliamanu Middle School. "I had a friend waiting for me, and I wouldn't be completely alone."

Moody continues to be involved with AYSP and assists other transitioning youth.

"I was so impressed with the program that I am now a sponsor," she said. "It makes me feel grateful that by sponsoring other teens, I am helping them and increasing our enrollments at the teen center."

Radford High School's "Malama I Na Haumana," which means caring for the students, and Leilehua High School's Aloha Ambassador's Transition Center provide additional support for new students and develop students' leadership skills.

In the past, youth facilitators in these programs have briefed Catherine Terry, spouse of Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry, commander, 8th Theater Sustainment Command; Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker, deputy commander for support, 25th Infantry Division; and Becker's wife, Sherri, about the program.

"I am very impressed by the program and the involvement by the students in reaching out to help others," Catherine said. "Empathy and leadership is clearly demonstrated in their efforts, and it is wonderful to see how it is encouraged and nurtured."

Army Youth Sponsorship Programs

Learn more AYSP by calling School Support Services at 655-9818 or by visiting www.mwrarmyhawaii.com.

Call the Transition Centers at Radford High School at 808-421-4200 or Leilehua High School at 808-622-6550.

Page last updated Fri April 22nd, 2011 at 16:36