By Christine June (USAG Kaiserslautern)March 18, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Saying "thanks" this year to Kaiserslautern Military Community youths during April's Month of the Military Child will mark a "first."
For the first time, the 435th Air Base Wing's Services Squadron at Ramstein Air Base and the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation are hosting the Kaiserslautern military community Month of the Military Child Celebration. Meant as a closeout to month-long activities, the celebration is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 25 at Pulaski Park on Pulaski Barracks.
"Here's the thing - we have Army families living (or working) on our installations and vice versa - How can we better service our 'purple' community'" said Dorothy Choate, the 435th ABW Services Squadron's Family Member Program Flight chief. "We decided to attack some of our major events as a community and bring our resources together so that we can serve our units and families more effectively and efficiently as one identity."
The month of April and with it, MOMC, happens every year, and the Air Force and Army in the KMC would each hold their own carnival-type event to mark the end of the military-wide observance, explained Belynda Smith, the garrison's FMWR Child, Youth and School Services chief.
"I have been here almost three years now, and I've noticed that there are a lot of similarities (between both programs)," said Smith. "We all celebrate youth and children in April so this was a good time to really come together and partner on the same type of event."
Uniting resources, talents and staff really adds to the event - being able to have more activities, games, information booths and entertainment, said Choate and Smith.
Activities planned for this event are numerous: Obstacle course; science and art; Sumo wrestling; boxing; tattoo and face-painting; art and crafts; bean bag toss; bobbin' for ducks; making beads and necklaces; horseshoes; and, ring toss. Several more are in the works with many of these activities being broken down into different age groups.
Parents are not left out either as there will be information booths from both military branches, such as the Air Force's Ramstein Airman and Family Readiness Center and garrison's Army Community Service.
Entertainment will be showcased at two platforms during the event and will be again a combined effort with both services' youth programs performing, as well as the Kaiserslautern High School's Step Team. Storytelling and puppet shows will be performed by staff from the Air Force and Army libraries.
Bouncy castles - again for different age groups, the garrison's Kiddie Train, Air Force's fire trucks will be at this year's event. Even costume characters will be walking around the park greeting children and their parents.
Month-long activities will still be held at each of the Air Force and Army programs and facilities to celebrate children, said Choate and Smith. Reading to children and visiting community members sharing job or cultural experiences are some of the planned activities.
"We are going to take this (MOMC event) as our lead, and we are going to do other events throughout the rest of the year," said Smith. "It's just a very smart idea for us partner on events like these because we both have Air Force and Army, and right now, Navy, families in our programs - so it's just smart to do this for military families."
Choate agreed, saying there are several events that are in the planning stages now, such as the America's Armed Forces Kids Run in May and Boys and Girls Club Day for Kids in September.
Air Force Child Development Centers and school-age programs are on Ramstein Air Base, Sembach Annex, Vogelweh Housing and Kapaun Air Station. Army CDCs and school-age programs are on Kleber Kaserne, Miesau Army Depot and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Since 1986, the Department of Defense, military services and communities around the world celebrate MOMC in April to recognize the importance of military children whose parents serve their country.