MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Children and families gathered for fun and games to celebrate the Month of the Military Child at the Mutli-purpose Activity Center Dome here April 10.Marine Corps Community Services spent months arranging and planning different activities for the children and families to take part in this special event to recognize the sacrifices they make while their parents serve their country.
“It’s an opportunity for all the military children as well as Japanese children out in town to come on base and enjoy the games and festivities to let them know how much we care about them,” said Keeya O. Charleston, family readiness officer with Marine Aircraft Group 12.
Available to the children were games, prizes, face painting, animal balloons, food and hourly performances to entertain all who attended.
Units and children’s organizations aboard the air station, including USA Girl Scouts Overseas and the Troop 77 Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Boy Scouts chapter, took part in making this day special to the children by providing arts and crafts tables.
The Provost Marshal’s Office K-9 unit performed a special demonstration to exhibit basic doghandling during a bag inspection and take down of a suspect.
Darci Kruse, MCCS health promotions assistant director here, provided an instructional Zumba class for the children to get up and dance.
“It’s always really important to have a cultural exchange for the kids as well.” said John Iwaniec, director of MCCS. “That’s the benefit of being on a military base in a different country. They get to share those cultures.”
During the day, raffle tickets were collected by the children and families to win prizes.
Two mountain bikes were handed out as special prizes to children ages 15 and below who entered the raffle.
Children ages 16-18 had the opportunity to win iPods.
The month of April has been designated military wide as the Month of the Military Child for decades to recognize the sacrifices made by military service member’s children.
“We want to make sure that we acknowledge the children because they too go through the stress and process of deployment just as the adults do,” said Charleston.
Whether it is the absence of a parent on deployment or having to relocate due to a permanent change of station, the children of military service members must adapt and overcome.
“They are a very unique population and live a very different lifestyle living on a military base,” said Iwaniec.
For the past seven years, the air station, in conjunction with MCCS, has coordinated and planned events to make the lives of the children better.
“Here aboard the air station, we try to make April that special month for the kids,” said Eugene Clark, supervisor at the Youth and Teen Center here.
Planned throughout the month to celebrate the Month of the Military Child are matinees at the Sakura Theater for children to enjoy as well as a scheduled trip to Universal Studios Japan.
“There are going to be ongoing things throughout the month,” said Iwaniec. “This year, we’re specifically looking at different ways we can make it better.”
For more information about upcoming events or available trips for children, contact the Youth and Teen Center by calling 253-5549.