By Bill Mossman, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 18, 2009
HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii - Shortly after plowing through several training stations set up inside of the gymnasium, here, 12-year-old Paige Bono found a place along a nearby wall to lean up against and rest her weary muscles.
Her body had just gone through an afternoon fitness workout replete with push-ups, sit-ups, rope jumping and weightlifting, and yet the teenager still had enough energy to make an astute observation about the benefits of one of the Child, Youth and School Services' (CYS2) newest programs, known as EDGE.
"The best thing about all of this is that I'm getting a lot of exercise," said Bono, a student at Wahiawa Middle School. "Usually, I'm just staying inside the house, watching TV or going on the computer."
EDGE, which stands for Excel, Develop, Grow and Experience, is an out-of-school program designed specifically for students like Bono - who are between the first- and 12th-grade levels, and in need of instructional activities to help fill their free time.
"EDGE is designed for youth in the community that may not need child care, but would like to participate in different youth activities," said Kristine Yasuda, a Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) partnership specialist and the program's creator.
The program, which kicked off two weeks ago at all U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii CYS2 teen centers, has more than 65 children signed up for classes this month.
EDGE classes, which currently include activities in fitness, bowling, ocean adventure and saddle up (learning how to ride a horse), are supervised by subject matter experts and will "change out every month and rotate between the age groups," Yasuda explained.
Future classes will be available in cuisine, art, golf, auto skills (for those over 14) and foreign language (for homeschooled children).
And if all goes well, she added, even skateboarding may be offered down the road.
"With EDGE, we're allowed to be creative, to be cutting edge," explained Yasuda. "Hopefully, within our (FMWR) family, we'll be able to pull our skills, hobbies and interests together and create more programs for the youth."
All the objectives sound great to program participants.
"It's going to really help the youth," said 16-year-old Anthony Monroe, the oldest of a group of teenagers registered at Helemano Military Reservation (HMR). "We all need things to do, and this (program) is going to do it."
Catrece Hurd said she enrolled daughter Madison, age 11, in the program at Schofield Barracks shortly after her husband, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hurd, D Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment, was deployed.
"Madison always goes to the teen center, here at Schofield, and I thought (the EDGE program) would be a wonderful way to keep her mind off her dad being gone," Hurd explained.
Since signing up last month, the youngster has taken a keen interest in EDGE classes like saddle up, bowling and ocean adventure, her mother has observed. Two weeks ago, in fact, Madison Hurd attended an ocean adventure outing at White Plains Beach in Kalaeloa, and wound up doing something she had never done before.
"She caught a wave for the very first time," Catrece Hurd said, proudly. "She came home happy."
Although the fresh new program is fast gaining momentum among Army youth and their parents, Yasuda said there is always room for additional bodies.
"I definitely want more kids involved," she said, before adding that while the program is largely free for teenagers, hourly fees are normally charged to preteen participants.
For more information on EDGE, call Child, Youth and School Services or contact Kristine Yasuda at 808-656-0095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.