Awareness events target children, family issues

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

4/1/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The focus is on children in April with Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month programs. Family advocacy, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and 42nd Force Support Squadron will make this month fun and educational for the Maxwell-Gunter community.

April Jones, family advocacy outreach manager, is pleased to host the children's health fair again this year. Maxwell clinic teams will be available, including the pediatrics, family health, women's health, public health, mental health, the drug demand reduction program, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment program, educational and developmental intervention services, military and family life consultants and the sexual assault response coordinator.

"Maj. Molar" from the dental clinic will talk to children about brushing their teeth. "This is a fun and educational event," Ms. Jones said. "The families deserve to know what is available to them and be proactive about their health needs."

Children can win prizes, including hula hoops, Easter baskets, teddy bears, kites and Frisbees.

For the first time, family advocacy is incorporating bowling into this month's festivities.

"This is bowling with a purpose," Ms. Jones said. "We'll be teaching children about stranger danger and providing education for parents on how to keep their children safe."

The cost is $5 per child, which includes two games of bowling, popcorn and a soda.

The Maxwell-Gunter Top Three Council sponsored the first 20 children who registered.

"It's tough to be a military child, and we have an obligation to make their lives as normal as possible," said Master Sgt. Arthur Thornton from the council. "This is just one of the many events the Maxwell-Gunter Top Three invest in our youth and community."

The 1-2-3 magic parenting workshop is designed to help moms and dads discipline their children in an effective and safe manner. Parents will learn tools to limit children's bad behavior before they get to their teens.

"We have to understand behavior at each age and redirect in a positive way," said Gwen Hill, family advocacy nurse. "The workshop will show you how to guide your child and discipline without getting physical or into a shouting match, showing that mom and dad mean business."

The month will wrap up with the first Maxwell healthy families conference, organized by the AFRC staff. The day will feature workshops for children ages 5-12, teens and parents. Topics include nutrition, bullying, conflict resolution and deployment coping skills.

Special forces will bring retired working dogs for children to pet. Sparky the fire dog will stop by the bowling center to talk about fire safety. The fire department will bring a simulated fire house to help children with emergency evacuation procedures.

Marie Hixon, the personal and work life consultant, is proud to offer this program. "This is a day families can spend together and hear about healthy choices," she said.

Registration is required for workshops. Call the AFRC at 953-2353.