FORT RILEY, Kan. - "Happy Birthday to you, and you and you ..."

As multicolored balloons and bouncing beach balls filled the air, 28 people celebrated a joint birthday party for the New Parent Support Program. Nine adult Family members, three Soldiers and 16 children attended the annual birthday party Sept. 3 at Army Community Service.

The party guests enjoyed pin the tail on the donkey, cake and ice cream. The children also did some face painting and art work.

Though not all of the 45 people who had said they were coming attended, Toiane Taylor, lead social worker with NPSP, was happy with the event's turnout.

"I think our little friends and their parents enjoyed themselves. I know I enjoyed seeing all my little friends and watching them play and interact," she said.

Other employees in the ACS building joined the celebration and donated the beach balls for the event.

The beach balls were a great hit, Taylor said, and in fact one hit the floor and bounced into the cake.

NPSP has been celebrating its annual birthday party since 2003. This joint birthday party is for all Families who participate in NPSP.

"We work with lots of Families and little ones. We aren't always able to celebrate all the special days with them. This is our way of celebrating all the special days and milestones all together at one time," Taylor said. "You may wonder sometimes if it makes a difference. If you had seen the smiles I saw today, you would know that it does."

In addition to its annual birthday party, NPSP holds classes throughout the year including a special class just for dads.

NPSP Families also are invited to participate in the four activities NPSP co-hosts with the Exceptional Family Member Program.

Taylor estimated the Family Advocacy Program, NPSP and the K-State Research and Extension Office at Fort Riley offer services to more than 125 Families at any given time.
NPSP is an important program for Soldiers and Families, Taylor said, because becoming a parent is such a life-changing event.

"Children have the capacity to inspire the best in us. Sometimes, it can be complicated to balance all the roles we each fill. NPSP can help parents (and) Families by offering information, referrals, activities and support during smooth and not so smooth times," Taylor said.

NPSP is a voluntary and free program. For more information on NPSP or to get involved call 785-239-9435 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are located in ACS, Building 7264 on Custer Hill.