Volunteer youth sponsors welcome young newcomers
March 22, 2013
HONOLULU -- For children and youth of Army families, relocation is a common occurrence.
When faced with a move as a result of their military parent's mission, children and youth may experience all kinds of emotions, including fear, anxiety, anger and even depression.
The Youth Sponsorship Program within U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) focuses on relocation support, as well as those life transitions that military-connected children and youth often encounter.
Here in Hawaii, each School Age Center and Middle School/Teen Program, part of Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) in DFMWR, has an established Youth Sponsorship Club wherein newly located children and youth can find a friendly welcome, transition support and new friendships.
"Quality peer-to-peer support is the backbone of the Youth Sponsorship Program," said Mark Maddox, CYSS transition specialist. "Without our enthusiastic young volunteers to welcome and befriend our newcomers, our program would not be as successful."
The clubs are made up of young volunteers who have experienced the same emotions and stresses that all new kids encounter. Adult leaders train prospective volunteers to be responsible sponsors and ambassadors to new children and youth who have just arrived to the Aloha State.
Each young newcomer who fills out a youth sponsorship request form will receive a welcome packet and be paired with a peer youth sponsor once he or she arrives in Hawaii. The request form asks for information, such as gender, age, grade, hobbies, etc., that will make the pairing process smoother.
If newcomers provide an email address, their selected sponsors can contact them before they arrive and give them a better idea of what to expect at their new duty station.
One feature of the welcome packet is an enclosed video CD developed by the Middle School/Teen Program at Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR). Teen actors provide a young person's take on the different sites and customs here in Hawaii.
"The kids did a very professional job in preparing this video and really brought home what it's like to be a new kid in a strange place," said Nelson Acosta, director of the AMR program. "We get a lot of positive comments about the video, and the teens had a great time sharing their personal views about their new home."
Information regarding the Youth Sponsorship Program can be obtained by calling any of your nearby School Age or Teen Centers; by contacting the School Liaison Office at 808-655-8326; or by visiting the Youth Sponsorship website at www.himwr.com and clicking on the CYSS link.