REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (April 8, 2015) -- All through the month of April, the spotlight is shining on military children, and nowhere is that more apparent than Redstone Arsenal's own Goss Road Child Development Center.
"Military children go through a lot," said Paula Majors, assistant director for the Goss Road Child Development Center. "A lot of the children in the center, they're with one parent because the other parent is deployed. Some live with other relatives because both parents are deployed. Being a military child myself, I know how tough it is to move around all of the time. You're not able to create the bonds that you do when you're not military, so it's important to make them feel special. This is a month to make them feel special. There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day -- there's not a kids day. With the military, we give them that Month of the Military Child to just have them shine."
This year's theme is, "Their Lives, Their Stories." Each week of celebration at the CDC is broken down into a special theme, to include Community Helpers, Sports Week, Character Counts and Earth Week, and Military Week, with activities planned like Olympic Day, a Western Day BBQ, an Earth Day tree planting, and military readers stopping by for story time each Thursday. The School Age Center will also celebrate the month with activities like Camouflage Day, Crazy Hat Day and Flurry Day.
"During this month there is a large focus on the children," Majors said. "We do that every day, but this is something special. It's fun, it's creative and it brings a whole different atmosphere to the building."
The CDC provides full-day and hourly care for children ages 6 weeks through kindergarten, and is open to the children of active duty military, DoD civilians, contractors, reservists and full-time National Guard. All are military children in their own way, whether their parents serve in uniform, or support those in the work they do on post.
"We know of all the situations, so we're extra compassionate -- we are to all of the children -- but especially to the military children when we know there's a parent who's going to be out of their lives for a while," Majors said. "We try to step in and take that place a little bit while they're here. We're always talking about the children and the parents, having them draw pictures we can send to them. We just try to be that extended family here, because we know what they're going through."
Majors know how important that is herself, as a military brat, wife and mother.
"My children were in the same situations that these guys are," Majors said. "I know how important it was for my children to be in the CDCs and the Youth Center too to get that extra comfort."