More than 50 people participated in the free Exceptional Family Member Program Summer Day Camp Saturday at the Luke Air Force Base Youth Center. The event provided an opportunity for children to enjoy an array of activities while parents learned about programs that are available to them.
“Many parents don’t know what’s available to help them out,” said Sarah Youngman, Association for Supportive Child Care resource and referral assistant coordinator. “For example, some EFMP parents may not be aware they are eligible for in-home respite care. This could provide some relief the family needs, and that’s the kind of thing we can help an eligible family with.”
As the families entered the youth center, they were met by staff and volunteers who offered a free T-shirt for each family member before rounding the corner to the face-painting artist.
“We wanted to make this event as much fun for the children as we could, so we pulled out the stops,” said Marjorie Thompson, 56th Force Support Squadron EFMP coordinator. “Our goal is to provide a fun, safe environment where we can educate and support our EFMP families.”
The sound of laughter echoed across the gym, which was filled with a bounce house, parachutes, a soccer goal and hula hoops. The event was capped off by a complimentary lunch.
The Exceptional Family Member Program family support function is the community support function provided by the Airman and Family Readiness Center and includes on- and off-base information and referrals, parent training, support groups, relocation assistance, financial management and school information.
“Our job is to take care of families with special needs,” Thompson said. “Hopefully with events like these parents will learn different ways to stimulate their children’s minds. These events also provide great opportunities to link families with helping organizations so all their needs can be met.”
After a full day of exercise and information gathering, families left more prepared to face the challenges ahead.
“We want to give these families hope,” Thompson said. “Regardless of the obstacles families need to overcome, we are there for them and will help them find the strength and support they need. It’s why we’re here.”