Children moving with their parents to a new duty station can find the process stressful. Moving to an unfamiliar town, making new friends and attending a new school can also be daunting. Thanks to the Youth Sponsorship Program, the transition process for children is friendlier, easier and enhances Soldier and Family readiness.

"The Youth Sponsorship Program encompasses relocation support and school transition assistance, but also anticipates the physical, social, emotional and intellectual changes youth experience," according to the YSP proclamation.

As families conduct permanent change of station moves, the program will link up a similarly aged volunteer with the incoming youth. These volunteers will be a "battle buddy," offering information that would be of interest to the new youth. They also assist with the first days of school so a new student doesn't face hundreds of new people alone.

"I believe in this program whole heartedly," said Fred Henley, Fort Jackson school liaison officer and program leader. "The focus of the program is to provide information, a sense of belonging and an opportunity to make friends. We all know how critical this is for youths."

The program offers a variety of activities to welcome youths to their new home that include: installation, community and school orientations; peer-to-peer communication; up-to-date web-based information; welcome and farewell activities; and training for youth sponsors and program advisers.

Henley said the program is designed to help increase resiliency, reduce risk behaviors, reduce stress in youths and parents, and increase school achievements. Other benefits include a sense of belonging, coping and resilience strategies and skills, leadership skills and inspires youths to be an active part of their community.

"If children are being taken care of and their needs are being met, Soldiers can focus on their missions," Henley said. "And that's a really good thing."

Henley explained that the program also benefits Soldier readiness. Having a program in place when arriving to a new duty station that helps ensure children are taken care of can provide a sense of peace to Soldiers and allow them to focus on integrating into their new unit and supporting the unit's current operations sooner.

Those who volunteer to become sponsors also benefit from the program. The program offers training and an opportunities to serve in leadership roles.

This can benefit volunteers by being applied to college applications and become more influential and active within their communities.

For more information about the Youth Sponsorship Program or to become a volunteer, contact the school support services at 751-6150.