Colorado State University’s 4-H Youth Program is one of 39 state 4-H programs across the nation to receive funding for Operation Military Kids, an outreach program in support of National Guard and Reserve families who have a member deployed to Iraq. The goal is to connect youth workers, educators, counselors and community service agencies in communities across the state to support military children and youth.
Colorado’s OMK team, sponsored by ARMY Child and Youth Services in collaboration with National 4-H, is made up of representatives from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, National Guard Child and Youth Services, the Army Reserve Child and Youth Services, and the Colorado Department of Education. OMK delivers a wide range of recreational, social and educational programs for military youth living in civilian communities.
"In recognition of ‘April: Month of the Military Child,’ we have a wonderful opportunity to reach out to military families in our own backyard," said Jan Carroll, Colorado State 4-H military liaison.
Emphasis is put on supporting military kids coping with the stress of having parents deployed overseas and potentially in harm’s way. OMK also focuses on educating the public about the impact of the deployment cycle on soldiers, families, kids and the community as a whole.
"This program is not about being for or against the war; it is about helping and supporting the children and youth of military personnel who have one or both parents deployed to Iraq," said Colorado State 4-H program coordinator Shauna Woods.
Training is provided for each OMK state team. The Colorado OMK team attended training in Kansas City where they were offered insight into military culture and the deployment cycle. They learned to understand the needs of military kids and their families as well as how to provide for those needs by bringing local community resources together.
During the State 4-H conference at Colorado State June 19-22, 4-H’ers will fill "Hero Packs" for children of deployed military parents. Hero Packs serve as a tangible expression of support for military families from their communities and OMK Partners. The packs are filled by non-military youth with mementos and items such as cameras, journals, stamps and letter writing materials designed to help connect kids with their deployed parent.
To find out more about the OMK program or Colorado State 4-H, contact Shauna Woods at email@example.com or (970) 491-1807.