CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- In celebration of Month of the Military Child, the Brussels Military Police met with children during a special visit to the Child Development Center at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux in Brussels April 17. The visit was an opportunity for the children to get a hands-on experience of being a military policeman through fun activities.
Army Staff Sgt. Sean Marshall and Sgt. Justin Kornoely were among the MPs who visited the childcare center. They saw the visit as a way to not only explain how the MPs protect the community but to also foster trust with the young group.
"It's important to build a relationship with our youth, especially at young age, so they are not scared of us and will approach us if they need anything," said Marshall.
As the policemen walked into the room, the children were initially hesitant to approach them. However, they quickly saw the kindness of each policeman. The MPs kneeled down to their level and spoke to them as a friend as opposed to an authority figure.
"I think a lot of them [the children] were scared at first to talk to us. Now they are coming up to us and asking us questions," Marshall added.
The children were excited as the MPs let them wear their vests and helmets in addition to getting to look inside a police car and talk on police radios.
Dominique Poitier, a Child and Youth Services employee, accompanied the children as they met the MPs. She said that having the MPs visit the CDC was important since children can look up to them as trusted figures in the community.
"Children need to understand that the military police are there to help them," she said.
CELEBRATING MILITARY KIDS
Even though the visit was filled with fun activities, the MP's and CDC staff's intent was more than just a community safety lesson.
Both Marshall and Kornoely are fathers and know first-hand the sacrifices military children make each day. Their visit to the CDC was their personal thanks to the children for their sacrifices in support of the U.S. military's mission.
"We should celebrate military children since they are not the only ones going through a change of station and meeting new people," said Kornoely.