FORT SILL, Okla. (April 5, 2012) -- Fort Sill kicked off its celebration of the military children who serve alongside their military parents, with a parade around the three child development centers on post April 2.

Hundreds of children from Tincher, Grierson and Cooper Child Development centers made costumes or hats and banners and gathered behind a fire truck and the Elgin High School Marching Band to parade around the three centers.

Grand marshall for the parade was Dr. Ben Cooper, Comanche County Memorial Hospital administrative physician, and one of the founders of the FitKids Coalition.

The coalition, which started in October 2005 after the community learned the startling fact that today's children were at risk because of obesity, works with area businesses and programs to offer opportunities for children to get active and stay active.

I'm thrilled to be here at the parade and see these children walking and parading around the centers and having fun," said Cooper. "That's the goal of the FitKids Coalition, to get kids outside, playing and getting active and having fun. Fort Sill does a great job of this and the parade is a perfect example."

Cooper said more than 40 percent of the children in Comanche County are overweight and the national average is around 12 percent. "So we are really off the track but I think the key is creating opportunities for children at an early age to enjoy being outside playing, running and having fun," he said.

There are more than 500 children enrolled in the three centers and they all took part in the parade, said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.

"They love to get outside on a beautiful day to take part in activities like the parade," she said. "We have renovated Tincher, added two new playgrounds to it and built two new centers to take care of our children.

"Everything we do every day is about supporting the Army Family Covenant and making sure we keep it alive and well. I think today, and especially in April as we kick off the Month of the Military Child, we just want to celebrate the excellence in our children because they do make a lot of sacrifices with their parents deploying and they often have to move away from their grandparents and aunts and uncles. It's important for us to let them know how special they are and how much we appreciate the sacrifices they make each and every day," said Spencer-Ragland.

The parade is one of a month full of activities to celebrate April as Month of the Military Child. To find out more about events planned throughout the month, log on to