Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and other organizations such as Army Community Service and Child and Youth Services on Fort Leavenworth are collaborating to observe April as the Month of the Military Child through events offered each week that are designed for families and military children of all ages.
School Liaison Officer Amanda Nonnemaker said the events are free, fun and provide an opportunity to gather in person with COVID-19 precautions in place.
“The Month of the Military Child is observed in April every year, and it’s to celebrate and honor military children and the youth — their sacrifices, their service, their commitment to the Army’s mission,” Nonnemaker said. “Here, everything that we plan locally is really geared toward celebrating and bringing awareness to the resilience, strength and importance of our military children and our youth.”
She said this year’s theme — “Military children and youth standing strong and proud” — is evident in the community.
“The whole point of this is the awareness. I think we can bring that throughout the whole year, that our service members and our spouses have a great deal of responsibility, but our kids do, too. They go through a lot of change and a lot of transition, and recognizing that throughout the year is really important.”
PAIR Day and Kids’ Fest
Post Activities Information and Registration (PAIR) Day and Kids’ Fest are free events April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harney Sports Complex. PAIR day is an informational event bringing representatives with educational, recreational, social and spiritual resources to one area for adults to browse. Kids’ Fest provides a range of activities for families and children to enjoy together.
“PAIR day is more (about) that information and awareness in the community. On the other side, you have Kids’ Fest, which is more about family and activities — the things for them to do together; it just goes well together,” Nonnemaker said. “This year it’s exciting to be back in person and to have the opportunity for families to gather safely and have fun. They’ll have sports activities, some SKIES demonstrations, art programs, and a DJ.”
CYS Spirit Week, Purple Up! and Child Abuse Prevention
Fort Leavenworth CYS Month of the Military Child Spirit Week is April 11-15. Nonnemaker said the CYS MOMC Spirit Week grew from Purple Up! Day when participants wear purple to honor military children. She said the “purple” in Purple Up! comes from combining the colors from the military service branches.
“Purple Up! this year is every Friday instead of just one day, and that’s kind of where our spirit week grew. We were like ‘let’s have some fun around it and make it into a whole week.’”
Monday is Tropical Day, Tuesday is Wear Blue for National Child Abuse Prevention Month (a collaboration with the Family Advocacy Program), Wednesday is Mismatch Day, Thursday is Team/Sport Day and Friday is Purple Up! Day.
She said while the week is fun, planning also considered state-testing and local school schedules to avoid disrupting academics.
Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest
The Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest is an Armywide competition for military youth enrolled in CYS programs to submit an answer to the question “What does it mean to you to be a military child or youth?”
“The goal of the contest is to tell the military story through the eyes of our children and youth,” according to the contest website.
Participants can electronically enter a drawing, written submission or audio/video submission to age-based categories by April 30. The overall contest winner and a first-place winner in each age category by submission type will receive prizes.
For more information and submission links, visit https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/cys/month-military-child/young-lives-big-stories/enter#.
Nonnemaker also recommended exploring opportunities for older children and youth to participate in Month of the Military Child, including Operation Megaphone and upcoming virtual college and career fairs.
Trails West Golf Course offers free, 20-minute golf lessons with a golf pro on the simulator for dependent military children during April from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays and from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Visit Trails West Golf Course or call 913-651-7176 to register.
Strike Zone Bowling Center offers two free bowling games, shoes and a complimentary soft drink to dependent military children during April from 4-8 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays; a reservation is not required.