By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsApril 27, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- April 21 was a special day for children in the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux community at Chièvres Air Base. Children smiled, dreamed, laughed and enjoyed many activities during Kids' Day at the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Community Activity Center on Chièvres Air Base, Belgium.
Held during the Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month, the event celebrated military children with fun-filled activities. Children of all ages jumped in the bouncy castle, built structures with LEGOs, watched puppet shows and enjoyed many other attractions.
Kids' Day had opportunities for families to spend time together, but it was also an occasion for them to meet representatives from different organizations and units in the garrison such as the firemen.
With their mascot Sparky the Dalmatian dog, the Chièvres Fire Department had a bouncy castle, two fire engines, and a junior firefighters' challenge at the event.
"This is basically what we do on different fires. We're simulating an exercise of coming into a building, pulling things, pulling different tours and running. These exercises are basically a simplified version of our job," said Grant Culbertson, Air Force firefighter at Chièvres Air Base.
According to Culbertson, this kind of event can open people to new ideas and job aspirations. "It's a good experience for the kids to see if they like it, if they want to be a firefighter when they grow up. I think a lot of kids come out here and they say 'This might be something I want to do when I get older,'" he said.
The Mons Knights
Maybe some kids will become firefighters in the future after Kids' Day, but maybe other kids will want to play football. The Mons Knights semi-professional American-style football team, sponsored a Punt, Pass and Kick style competition. Coming to the event was a chance for them to explain a sport that non-Americans don't know well, especially since soccer is called football in other countries.
"I am originally from Texas, and, in Texas, playing football is ingrained in us at a pretty young age," said Nick Granado, a ranch technician on Chièvres Air Base and head coach of the Mons Knights.
"I want to show the international people and the locals that it's a fun sport. I know a lot of people look at it, and it seems a little complicated. They don't understand the rules. But if they really dive into it, it's fun. Look at the team. It's all Belgian, expect for four Americans. They took the time to really learn it, and now they love it," he added.
Granado loves his sport and would like to share his passion with more people. "My goal is to build this sport in Belgium. That's why I live here. I got out of the military. I am a civilian. I am a ranch technician on Chièvres, but I look at myself as a coach at the same level."
Some people could think that football is not for them or could think that the sport is too violent. However, Granado wants people to know that football is more about technique.
"It's not a question of how big you are or how you look. The best way is how technical you are. For example, there is a small kid on SHAPE but has a big heart and big goals in his mind. He doesn't care how small he is. He doesn't hurt when he hits, but he has got the technique. You can be a big person but if you are not physically in it, mentally in it, technically in it, you are not going be good," Granado explained.
By the end of the day, some attendees left Chièvres Air Base with new skills and maybe with a new passion.
For information on upcoming events for families, visit the Chièvres Family and MWR website at https://chievres.armymwr.com.