Wyoming 4-H invites participation in Operation: Military Kids program | TheFencePost.com
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Wyoming 4-H invites participation in Operation: Military Kids program

by Steven Miller
Senior Editor,
University of Wyoming

The Wyoming 4-H Program is inviting volunteers and organizations across the state to help support and provide growth opportunities to children of military parents who have been deployed overseas.

Operation: Military Kids (OMK) offers support networks, recreational, social and educational programs and much more for youths, said Sarah Jackson, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (UW CES) 4-H/military extension educator in Laramie County.

Jackson and fellow extension educator Jenna Evans help implement 4-H youth programs at F.E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne and in U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard installations across Wyoming.

“Because 4-H already has a presence in every Wyoming county, 4-H is seeking other local partners, volunteers and organizations in communities across the state who wish to join us in serving youths in military families,” said Jackson.

Training sessions are being scheduled for anyone wanting more information about OMK programs. Contact Eloise Riley, OMK program coordinator with the UW CES, at (307) 633-4492 or eriley3@uwyo.edu.

OMK programs are delivered by a group of national partners, including 4-H, the American Legion, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Army Child and Youth Services, the Military Child Education Coalition and the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies.

OMK in Wyoming includes Jackson, Evans and Riley, National Guard and Reserve family staff members and Military One Source representatives.

. OMK goals are:

· Create community support networks for youths when military parents are deployed.

· Deliver recreational, social and educational programs for military youths living in civilian communities.

· Collaborate with schools to ensure staff members are aware of the unique needs of military students whose parents are deployed.

· Educate the public on the impact of the deployment cycle on military members, families, kids and communities.

· Incorporate “suddenly military” families into ongoing programs offered by 4-H, Boys & Girls Clubs, the American Legion and other community partners.

OMK programs include:

* Ready, Set, Go! Trainings – Coordinated regional and local efforts to increase

understanding of unique issues facing military youths who are dealing with the deployment or reintegration of a parent or loved one.

* Speak Out for Military Kids – A youth-driven outreach program to raise awareness about issues facing military families. Participants develop lectures, public service announcements, videos and other promotional materials.

* Hero Packs – Hand-delivered salutes and thank-yous to military youths for their strength and sacrifices while parents are deployed.

* Mobile Technology Labs – Offer laptop computers that provide a variety of options for connecting children and youths to their deployed parent.

“Helping with OMK programs is a great way to serve youths in our communities when they most need caring adults in their lives,” Jackson said.


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