By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The school children of Trailblazer Elementary School can now walk from one end of the United States to the other thanks to some volunteer Airmen.
Volunteers from the 4th Space Operations Squadron recently painted a replica of the U.S. on the school’s playground, providing an educational play map for the children.
The Airmen were then invited back Jan. 29 where they received letters written by the students.
“It was really cool to get ‘thank you’ letters from them,” said 2nd Lt. Ivonne Maldonaldo. “Almost everyone wrote letters and asked questions so our whole crew is planning to write back to them.”
Lieutenant Maldonaldo said the project took more than six hours of work and five buckets of paint to fill an approximate 35-by-42 foot section of the playground. The school’s geography club provided the supplies for the project. She said it was rewarding to see the educational benefit the map has for the students.
“The kids wrote about their ideas on how to use it,” the lieutenant said. “The teachers were talking about putting the state names on it, but the kids said that it might be better if the names of the states aren’t on the map so they can help the younger kids learn them. One girl wrote that it was like studying outside.”
After taking a group photo with students and school staff, the Airmen visited different classrooms to talk about the importance of education while answering questions and explaining their Air Force roles. Many children anxiously held their hands up waiting for their turn to ask a question.
“It’s incredible for the students to have such good role models,” said Kimberly Harper, first grade teacher. “We talked about what it took for them to become an Airman — staying in school, working hard, doing your personal best — we kind of went over some of those things in the classroom. So it’s just been an incredible experience for the kids.”
Harper said she appreciated the time the Airmen spent painting the map and coming back to visit the school and the children.
“It’s just such an honor to have them come out and to spend their own time to do something that they did not need to do,” she said. “They could’ve been home with their families or out with their friends and for them to give up their time and come out and paint the map on the playground for us I think is incredible.”