By Suet Lee-GrowneyMay 3, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., May 3, 2018 -- It was all about the kids at Fort Sill Youth Center April 26 morning. As soon as they got out of their parents' car, they rushed to the Department of Emergency Services (DES) static displays and climbed in. Inside the center, they engaged in interactive play at the Imagination Playground.
The event, "Imagine a Safer Future" was held by the New Parent Support Program (NPSP) to bring awareness to Child Abuse Prevention Month. NPSP partnered with several installation organizations including the military police (MP), fire department, and Nye Library for a day of interactive play and learning.
Aside from the fun parts, the event provided an opportunity for parents and their children, who are either not in school or being home schooled, to bond and create healthier families here, said Sam Atchley, NPSP team lead.
"Also to let them know the Fort Sill fire (department) and the MPs, so the kiddos are familiar with them, and if they ever did need their assistance, they're not afraid of them when they come," Atchley said.
The DES static displays allow children to explore the vehicles and learn about what and where the sight and sounds come from.
"We want to promote a safer future: a safer environment for our kids since it's Child Abuse Prevention Month," said Kimika Louis, Family Advocacy Program (FAP) specialist. "(DES) take the kids around their vehicle, let them turn on the sirens, so they have a positive correlation to firemen and police officers, and also to promote safety on base."
In the middle of the basketball court at the youth center were large blue blocks of odd geometric shapes and sizes called the Imagination Playground. It is for children to participate in creative play. And while the kids build and connect with their senses through play, parents can network, said Louis.
"These blue blocks are from the Health Department downtown (Lawton)," she said. "What they do is promote active play."
A event like Imagine a Safer Future is an opportunity for parents to network, which is crucial to Soldier and family readiness, Louis said.
"They also get to learn the programs that help prevent stress, suicide, domestic violence, and child abuse," she said. "We feel that if we can get in front of the problem and have special events like this, then hopefully we can decrease and help eliminate those type of issues among our Soldiers and families."
Louis added that networking becomes even more important when young families stationed at Fort Sill are far from their own families. The last thing Louis said the FAP wants is for families to be stationed here with no friends and know nothing.
"When you come to a new area, to be able to network with new people and not just be an island to yourself, is very important," she said. "By hosting these types of events, it will pull people out of the homes, pull them away from the TV, and have them network, so they can have that support system away from home."
Ashley Garuti-Enos, wife of Pfc. Daniel Garuti-Enos, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery; was there with her 2-year-old son Daniel Jr. Garuti-Enos said she learned about the event through Facebook.
"(Daniel Jr.) loves the fire trucks and they were going to be here, so it was a good opportunity to let him explore the fire trucks," she said.
Garuti-Enos' family have only been at Fort Sill for nine months and this is their first duty station. She said she likes Imagine a Safer Future because it's a chance for her only child to socialize with other kids.
"He likes to play with older kids," she said. "It broadens the activities that we do because sometimes we just spend a day in the house, or we're just going to the grocery store; it lets him play with other children his age and maybe I'll make a friend out of it and he'll make a friend out of it. And we learn more things; I just got a pamphlet so now we can go to story time."