Commentary

August 16, 2012

Youth programs combat negative influences

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Commentary by Kimberly Gilman
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — If you have children, especially teenagers, you already know the harrowing statistics that illustrate the dangers they face in the world today. Daily we see news about kids left to their own devices after school who have taken the wrong path in life.

Air Force youth programs help combat potentially negative influences in our kids’ lives by providing healthy, interesting, educational and fun activities where they can channel their creative energy.

Air Force wide, more than 63,000 kids between 6 and 18 participate in Air Force youth programs including sports, fitness, arts and technology, leadership opportunities and outdoor adventures. Those kids are thriving in an environment focused on enabling them to reach their potential and achieve their personal dreams. Our adult staff members work to help participants grow and develop into confident young adults, artists, athletes, leaders.

Past participants have used what they learned as Air Force youth program participants to seize their dreams. From a full scholarship to Marquette University to participation in the Miss USA Pageant, our kids are excelling in their chosen fields. More than a dozen Teen Aviation Camp participants have been accepted into the Air Force Academy.

Others, as participants in the Youth Employment Skills program, have learned career skills, supported their communities as volunteers, and earned cash toward their post-high school academic or training pursuits. While they earned money for their own educational needs, their participation in YES also earned money for their home base youth programs, enabling them to benefit personally and pay it forward as well. Many YES alumni today are serving in military leadership roles, pursuing graduate degrees and mentoring others in communities around the country.

This summer, more than 250 installation teens attended and all-expenses-paid trip to participate in Close Up Washington D.C., a nonprofit program established in 1971 that educates and inspires young people to become informed and engaged citizens. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the teens who attended, and typical of the developmental programs for Air Force youth.

In an increasingly perilous world, Air Force youth programs offer a healthy alternative to the detrimental, self-destructive activities we so often hear about in the news. Under the loving guidance of our staff, your kids will make connections with others of similar and varying experiences, and they’ll have opportunities to stretch their wings, learn about themselves, pursue their gifts, and grow into tomorrow’s leaders.

Contact your installation youth programs for further information about local opportunities. For more information about Air Force youth programs and other quality of life programs, visit www.usafservices.com or www.myairforcelife.com.




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