Camp Zama youth leader passes down experience to younger generations
Charlotte Patterson, a former senior at Zama Middle High School and the Camp Zama and Asia-wide Military Youth of Year, gives a presentation May 24 to children at the School Age Center on Sagamihara Family Housing Area, Japan, about the importance of kindness. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan – The day before she graduated high school, Charlotte Patterson had one last community engagement she wanted to do before moving back to the United States.

Patterson, who was named both the Camp Zama and Asia-wide Military Youth of Year, gave a presentation to elementary-aged children May 24 at the School Age Center in an effort to pass down to a younger generation the knowledge and experiences she had accrued.

Patterson, a former senior at Zama Middle High School, said the focus of her presentation was to convey to her audience a message on the importance of being kind to others and how it can be implemented in their daily lives. She covered topics such as how detrimental it can be to a person when you are mean to them, and conversely, how being kind to others can make a positive impact on them.

“When I was younger, I didn’t understand why it was so important to be kind until people were unkind to me,” Patterson said.

Camp Zama youth leader passes down experience to younger generations
Charlotte Patterson, a former senior at Zama Middle High School and the Camp Zama and Asia-wide Military Youth of Year, gives a presentation May 24 to children at the School Age Center on Sagamihara Family Housing Area, Japan, about the importance of kindness. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

In interacting with the children during her presentation, Patterson said she felt they already knew how to be kind, but she wanted to explain to them just how impactful the act can be. It is important that children become aware of the importance of being kind, she said.

“I wanted the kids to understand that little comments can positively or negatively impact others,” Patterson said. “It can change their whole day.”

Violet Dinsmore, a fourth grader at Arnn Elementary School on SFHA, said she leaned exactly that from Patterson’s presentation. During a question-and-answer session, she also got to ask Patterson how it felt to have been named the Military Youth of the Year.

Hannah Maza, the Camp Zama Youth Center director, said she thought the presentation would be a great opportunity for children at the SAC to meet an older student whom they could aspire to as a role model. Charlotte fits the bill because she is a hardworking student who contributed to her community and who made a difference as an impactful young leader.

Camp Zama youth leader passes down experience to younger generations
Charlotte Patterson, a former senior at Zama Middle High School and the Camp Zama and Asia-wide Military Youth of Year, poses for a photo with children at the School Age Center on Sagamihara Family Housing Area, Japan, after giving a presentation there May 24 about the importance of kindness. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

Charlotte worked very hard to prepare for her presentation, Maza said. She asked questions if she needed help and took constructive criticism from older mentors in order to make the experience for her young audience as beneficial as possible.

Maza remembers Patterson as being very shy and introverted when she first met her. But she quickly grew into an engaged student and activist—particularly in the past year, with Patterson helping to plan many events and community engagements.

“Seeing her grow and thrive has been awesome,” Maza said. “We are very proud of her.”

Maza said she hopes Charlotte gained confidence through the positive experiences she had at Camp Zama, and that those experiences will help mold her into “a fearless leader who is bound for great things.”