Six students from Irving L. Branch Elementary School became the first-ever team leaders for the “Anchored4Life” program on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 17, 2021.
Edwards is the latest location to join the Anchored4Life program, which is also now available at 280 locations worldwide and has the potential to provide a positive impact to more than 1 million military children in the kindergarten through 12th grade range.
“Anchored4Life is a program that is to designed to help students transition from various aspects of life,” said Nick Cantrell, 6th grade teacher, and Anchored4Life adviser. “Particularly in our military community, we have a lot of families and students that are moving around a lot, so we are trying to come up with some methods that would help us with those transitions, and Anchored 4 Life has a lot of support built-in to their program.”
Anchored4Life is a peer-to-peer club focused on strengthening resiliency life skills for youth facing transitions. Military children may relocate with their service member parents every 1-4 years, considerably more often than their civilian counterparts.
Cantrell added that since base schools are in the Muroc Joint Unified School District that the program would also help non-military families’ students at the base schools.
“I think it would have been helpful for me because since you’re new, you don’t really know anybody there and I could have had people help me and show me around. But since we didn’t have that, I would have to find my way, on my own,” said Aaliyah Julias, 6th grade student and one of the new Anchored 4 Life team leaders.
Cantrell explained that Anchored 4 Life is a student-run club, so once the advisers take off the ‘training wheels,’ team leaders such as Julius will be responsible for it. Team leaders attended a two-day training session that help develop and culture students’ skills in public speaking, project planning, and leadership.
Another important aspect that is emphasized in the program are connections said Candace Lang, Edwards AFB School Liaison Officer.
“All of us experience transitions or change, and it is easier to face those changes when we have connections, and that’s where the team leaders come and play,” she said.
Lang explained that team leaders were trained on how to provide kits for various situations such as for welcoming new students, deployed and redeployed parents, and even send-offs for students moving to new schools.
“The team leaders got a lot of great hands-on experience in conducting and role-playing some of those activities,” Lang said.
Immediately following their training, team leaders were already planning for their next meeting and future projects.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new students and hopefully making them happy and finding new friends as they had before at their old school,” Julius said. “I’m thinking I can give them a warm welcome with the kits to remind them, ‘it’s fine that you’re moving here because lots of people moved here and you can make lots of friends here.’”