Story and photos by Kerstin Lopez
Ironhorse Park was littered with Soldiers and more than 120 children from local area schools May 4.
The Adopt-A-School Program’s Camp Fort Carson brought together Soldiers and children for a day of activities, giving both communities an opportunity to learn more about one another.
“This is the first event of its kind at Fort Carson, as part of the Adopt-A-School program. Participating Soldiers have been hosted by the schools all year as they volunteer their time to assist students. This is an opportunity for AAS Soldiers to host participating school personnel and students at Camp Fort Carson,” said Susan Silva, Child, Youth and School Services administrator.
Silva said the goal of the camp was to provide students, teachers and school staff an opportunity to have a day at Fort Carson with their AAS Soldiers, to learn about life on an Army post, to celebrate their year’s work in AAS with activities and lunch, and to build stronger relationships between the local community schools and the Army.
Local area students and Fort Carson Soldiers bond and share experiences through AAS, which is a volunteer-based program that promotes a partnership between the local schools and the Soldiers, said Armanda Hunt, CYSS coordinator.
Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander, said the program benefits the community as a whole.
“We are very unique in that we are a community at war. Those of you who have military kids in your schools understand the stresses on those kids … so the power of us coming together with the Adopt-A-School Program is great for Fort Carson and great for the community,” McLaughlin said.
Hunt said the Adopt-A-School activities and events are conducted to increase public awareness of the Army’s mission and to foster good relations with local communities. Tutoring, mentoring, sports, reading, character building, testing assistance and life skills are some of the activities Soldiers do with the students.
Prior to the Camp Fort Carson event, a social was held April 27 at the Elkhorn Conference Center to recognize the time and efforts of the Soldiers and schools involved in the program.
“The AAS social is a motivational recruitment and planning tool to promote more unit-school adoptions and to plan upcoming activities at the schools for the Soldiers. It is a time to celebrate the time commitment and activities of the Soldiers in the schools,” Hunt said.
She said the partnership benefits are important to teachers and counselors as it allows them additional resources when it comes to manpower and working with the students. Soldiers participate in all sorts of activities from mentoring and tutoring to facilitating sports games to hosting field trips and events such as Camp Fort Carson.
“The schools rely upon volunteers and community members to help out in the school setting. Soldiers and units in turn have the opportunity to expand upon talents, give back to the community and be recognized for their service,” Hunt said.