Fort Lee, Va. (Feb. 12, 2009) -- Not even spring-like weather could keep Fort Lee teens from seizing the opportunity to speak their minds and help shape their community.

As they sat huddled around tables, teen Family members discussed and debated Army Family Action Plan issues during the Teen AFAP conference Feb. 7. Community teens were encouraged to submit issues for debate in the weeks prior to the conference.

They took on issues like clothing selections and quality at the Fort Lee Post Exchange and swimming pool fees.

They tackled concerns of a more serious nature, such as sex offenders and the effects on children when dual military parents deploy simultaneously. The delegates frequently spend time at the Fort Lee Youth Center where the conference was held. They seized this opportunity to have their voices heard by Army leaders.

Linda Harvey, AFAP manager and event facilitator, kept the delegates on track and helped guide their debates. She instructed them to present a point of view and act as the decision maker. She also expressed the importance of keeping an open mind. "

Respect other\'s opinions and positions," Harvey said. "Listen to what others are saying and remain objective."

Casey Dockery said she volunteered because it was a unique opportunity to help make changes in her community.

"As a minor, I don't usually get the opportunity to be a part of anything," Casey said. "Minors don't have an actual say in anything that goes on. This was the way that I was able to have my say in things and to have something good come from what I think."

When the Dockery Family came to Fort Lee from Fort Hood last summer, they discovered differences in programs and policies that directly affected their daily activities. Corey Dockery was disappointed to find a fee associated with use of the installation pool. In Texas, he enjoyed free use of the post swimming pools.

Corey, like his sister, came to speak up about the issues he sees in his community.

"I came to say what I was thinking and to try to improve my community," Corey said. "I'd like to see more opportunities for kids."

The teens chose two of the issues they debated to send to the AFAP Outbrief on Feb. 23, where Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, and other leaders from Team Lee will listen as a representative presents the issues and their recommendations for further evaluation and resolution. The Installation AFAP Conference is set for Feb. 18 - 19 at Memorial Chapel.

Harvey encouraged community members to submit issues and volunteer.

"I'd like for people to get involved by volunteering to be a part of the conference or by submitting issues to voice their concerns," she said.

Issues can be submitted at any of the AFAP Issues Boxes located at the Fort Lee Post Exchange, Child, Youth and School Services central registration, Kenner Army Health Clinic, and at Army Community Service.