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FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After about a year-and-a-half absence, Fort Rucker Child and Youth Services is bringing back many of its most popular programs starting in August.

Those programs include youth sports, the child development center’s preschool and toddler part-day care program, instructional classes and home school enrichment, according to Toni Hampton, Fort Rucker CYS coordinator.

Hampton and the CYS staff are excited to reopen the programs shut down by the pandemic, and also about seeing the familiar faces of children they haven’t seen in a year along with all of the new faces who now call Fort Rucker home, she said.

“We encourage parents to check into these programs, and to visit and meet our staff, see our facilities and hopefully choose to use more of our CYS programs,” Hampton said, adding that CYS programs are a great way for children new to Fort Rucker to meet new friends. “We’re really grateful to the community for sticking it out with us, and we hope that they choose CYS programs in the future.”

YOUTH SPORTS

Registration is ongoing for soccer; flag football; volleyball; and ready, set, run, with seasons for each set to begin in August, according to Randy Tolison, youth sports and fitness director.

“We’re excited about getting started again with our sports programs – we invite every young person eligible to participate to come out and do so,” he said, adding that those who are eligible include children of anyone who works on Fort Rucker– contractors, non-appropriated fund employees, civilian employees and servicemembers. “But to participate, they do need to be a CYS member – becoming a member is free – then they can then register for the activities.”

He advised interested parents to call parent central services at 334-255-9638 if they’re not members of CYS to find out what documentation they need to bring with them in order to register for CYS.

Children will also need a current sports physical, as well, which can be obtained by scheduling an appointment with each child’s health care provider. Lyster Army Health Clinic will host a School and Youth Sports Physical Day July 24. For more, visit https://www.army.mil/article/248408.

But once the red tape and examinations are out of the way, though, the benefits for children taking part in team sports are many, Tolison said.

“They get the opportunity to play with other young people, and build and develop skills that they can be proud of and build on throughout their lives,” he said, but one of the most important things is the lifetime friendships they develop. “We have children who will be with us for a year or possibly two, then move on, but some of the friendships they develop through these sports often last for many, many years.”

The Fort Rucker Youth Sports Program is in need of coaches to ensure each child who wants to gets to participate, Tolison said. For more on becoming a coach, check out the article at https://www.army.mil/article/248614, or call 334-255-2254.

PART-DAY PRESCHOOL AND TODDLER CARE

The CDC will offer its preschool, toddler part-day care program for ages 2-5 starting Aug. 16. This program is designed for parents of children in those age groups who don’t necessarily require all-day care, Hampton said.

“This was a very popular program before the pandemic – it gives people the flexibility to have regular care, but not necessarily full day,” she added. “Some families do not have the need for full-day care, but still want to provide their children with regular socialization within a school setting to prepare them for kindergarten.”

Parents can choose to receive care for two, three or five days a week from 8-11 a.m. Interested parents should visit militarychildcare.com to request child care space, and then they will receive an email or phone call from parent central services if space is available.

Parents will pay a monthly fee, which is based on a sliding fee scale determined by their total family income. “The program runs on the school year calendar, but if something comes up and plans change, they can withdraw from the program if necessary,” Hampton said.

During the program children participate in group time, where they will read stories, play games, sing songs, work on an art project and more, she added.

INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS

CYS will bring back its popular instructional programs in August, designed for parents who are looking for their children to better develop their minds and bodies, and also learn a skill that could turn into a life-long pursuit, Hampton said.

“The goal of the instructional program is to help to promote skills in children that they can use later in life – it really helps open their eyes to what is out there,” she said, adding that the program will offer classes in gymnastics, music – guitar, piano and voice – and swimming.

“Gymnastics is great for motor skills and great for their health,” Hampton said. “Music helps in the development of their brain function, and swim lessons are important – learning to swim can save a child’s life.”

Instructors for each program are contractors, and each program is broken up into levels from beginner to advanced – age groups are also broken up, as well, she added.

The classes will run from August to July, and people can join in progress as long as there is space available. Swim lessons are paid for by lesson, while music and gymnastics are paid for monthly, Hampton said.

To sign up for a class or get more information, visit webtrac.mwr.army.mil or call 334-255-1867.

HOMESCHOOL ENRICHMENT

CYS will offer its homeschool enrichment program once again Sept. 8.

The free program offers a physical education activity at the youth center to supplement parents’ homeschool curriculums, she said, adding that people do need to register with CYS to attend.

For more information on any of these program, call CYS at 334-255-1867.