By Audrey Jensen
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With smiles on their faces and containers full of coloring books and drawing utensils in hand, fourth and fifth grade students from Rocky Mountain Classical Academy shuffled off their school bus and up the sidewalk ready to make a difference at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
One-by-one, the students dropped off containers full of coloring goods for use in patient rooms at the Pediatric Clinic on Peterson AFB, March 8, 2018.
Through Elementary Student 2 Student, a nationwide Military Child Education Coalition student leadership program funded in part by the Wounded Warrior Project, 22 RMCA students collected coloring books and drawing supplies at their school for patients at the clinic.
“We kind of brainstormed and the kiddos decided they wanted to do a spirit drive to raise the supplies,” said Dana Woods, RMCA elementary counselor and ES2S coordinator. “They wrote a proposal, presented it to administration at RMCA and it got approved. The kids got to dress up every day for a week and bring in the supplies — now we’re here to donate it to the clinic.”
ES2S was implemented at six schools in the U.S. last year, one of which was RMCA. The program, which is one of three S2S programs, was created to provide support for younger students transitioning to new schools.
“A lot of these kids either have parents in the military or their parents are affiliated with the military in some way,” said Amber Kettinger, RMCA fifth grade teacher and ES2S coordinator. “In teaching leadership, we wanted them to do some type of community project, and out of anything they could have picked this is it.”
“They felt that military children already move around a lot as it is, so they want to try to make every experience for them positive.”
More than 150 fourth and fifth grade students at RMCA each wrote an essay trying to get into the ES2S leadership group, but only 22 were selected, said Woods. Students do not have to have parents in the military to join the program, which conducts one community project and one school-based project each year.
Capt. Neelie Ylagan, 21st Medical Group Pediatric Clinic element chief and Airman 1st Class Dion McCall, 21st Medical Group Aerospace medical technician, walked the RMCA students through the clinic and helped them place the containers in the rooms.
“We thought some kids [at the clinic] might feel a little scared in the rooms while they’re waiting,” said Noah Askew, RMCA student. “We thought it would be helpful for them to have something to do and have their mind focused on something like the coloring books and crayons we brought in.”
“I think the patients are going to be pretty excited with the coloring books. We tried to get enough so it will last them quite a while with all the different patients coming in every day.”
For more information about S2S programs, visit militarychild.org.