Joint celebration says ‘thanks’ to youth

by Christine June
USAG Kaiserslautern

For the first time, the 435th Services Squadron and U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation are hosting the KMC Month of the Military Child Celebration.

Meant as a closeout to month-long activities, the celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 25 at Pulaski Park on Pulaski Barracks.

“We decided to attack some of our major events as a community and bring our resources together so that we can serve our units and families more effectively and efficiently as one identity,” said Dorothy Choate, the 435th Services’ Family Member Program flight chief.

In April for MOMC, the Air Force and Army each hold their own carnival-type event to mark the end of the military-wide observance, said Belynda Smith, the garrison’s FMWR Child, Youth and School Services chief.

“I have been here almost three years now, and I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similarities (between both programs),” Ms. Smith said. “We all celebrate youth and children in April so this was a good time to really come together and partner on the same type of event.”

Uniting resources, talents and staff really adds to the event; it means more activities, games, information booths and entertainment, Ms. Smith said.
The event will have many activities including an obstacle course, science and art, Sumo wrestling, boxing, tattoo and face-painting, art and crafts, bean bag tosses, bobbin’ for ducks, making beads and necklaces, horseshoes and a ring toss.

Parents are not left out either as there will be information booths from both military branches, such as the Air Force’s Ramstein Airman & Family Readiness Center and the garrison’s Army Community Service.

Entertainment will be showcased at two platforms during the event; it will be a combined effort with both services’ youth programs performing, as well as Kaiserslautern High School’s Step Team. Storytelling and puppet shows will be performed by staff from the Air Force and Army libraries.

Bouncy castles, the garrison’s Kiddie Train and  Air Force fire trucks will also be at this year’s event. Month-long activities will still be held at each of the Air Force and Army programs and facilities to celebrate children, said Ms. Smith, who said reading to children and visiting community members sharing job or cultural experiences is some of the planned activities.

“We are going to take this (MOMC event) as our lead and we are going to do other events throughout the rest of the year,” Ms. Smith said. “It’s just a very smart idea for us to partner on events like these because we both have Air Force and Army and right now, Navy, families in our programs. So, it’s just smart to do this for military families.”

Ms. Choate agreed saying there are several events that are in the planning stages now, such as the America’s Armed Forces Kids Run in May and Boys and Girls Club Day scheduled for  September.

Air Force Child Development Centers and school-age programs are on Ramstein, Sembach Annex, Vogelweh Housing and Kapaun Air Station. Army CDCs and school-age programs are on Kleber Kaserne, Miesau Army Depot and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Since 1986, the Department of Defense, military services and communities around the world celebrate MOMC in April to recognize the importance of military children whose parents serve their country.