Commanders Column
Col. Deborah B. Grays
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- To celebrate Month of the Military Child, Ready Army is launching the Prepared Kids competition.

Prepared Kids recognizes the creativity, strength and spirit of Army children by inviting everyone 18 years of age and younger to share their unique perspectives on the theme, Prepare Strong!

The competition provides an Army-wide forum for our children to express their thoughts on preparing for natural and man-made emergencies, and an opportunity for families to come together to discuss this important issue.

Last September, the Army launched a proactive community awareness campaign called Ready Army to encourage individual and family preparedness. Flood and tornado season are upon us here in the south and hurricane season is fast approaching.

Ready Army's Prepared Kids competition reminds Soldiers and families of the resources available to protect Army families from all hazards, and provides a creative forum for family preparedness activities.

Prepared Kids empowers children to use their unique talents to tell their personal stories of preparedness. Entries may be a drawing, song, video, public service announcement or any other creative medium related to the theme, Prepare Strong!

Suggested focus areas include getting an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan, preparing to take care of pets, being informed about the range of hazards and getting involved in community activities to build preparedness. Children may enter as individuals or in groups. Entire classrooms are welcome!

Prepared Kids runs until Aug. 12, when finalists will be posted on the Ready Army Web site for a one-week open voting session. Winners in each category will be announced during September, National Preparedness Month, and incorporated into the 2010

Ready Army campaign, showing that everyone in the Army family has a voice to inspire others to prepare.

Emergency preparedness saves lives and mitigates the effects of a disaster; however research shows that most Americans, including military Families, consider themselves to be more prepared than they actually may be.

The Army is committed to preparing for all hazards and caring for Soldiers and Families. Through Prepared Kids, our children and teens are encouraged to participate in age-appropriate, educational and fun activities that will enhance their physical, emotional and mental strength.

Because of their unique courage, contributions to the Army Family and daily sacrifices, military children are "everyday heroes" to the Army and the nation, as are their parents who wear the Army uniform.

These individuals are so important that we have special events prepared for children in April, which is the 21st year the Month of the Military Child has been celebrated.

Events include:
o Wednesday, I signed a Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation to kick off the monthlong celebration of our military children.
o The whole family can come out Saturday and enjoy Spring Fest, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Fort McPherson's Hedekin Field.
o A fishing rodeo will be held April 25. There is a Fishing Rodeo on 25 April at Stephens Lake at Fort Gillem with registration starting at 8 a.m.
o Celebration events will end with our annual Month of the Military Child Parade April 29 starting at 10:30 a.m.

Prepare Strong!