Conference gives families coping tools
Tooth and care Maj. Molar and Staff Sgt. Candice Couser from the dental squadron distribute toothbrushes during the children’s health fair April 7 at the base clinic. Family advocacy sponsored the event, featuring booths from a dozen base agencies. A conference is scheduled April 30 to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. (Air Force photo/Kelly Deichert)
Conference gives families coping tools

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

4/18/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Parents and children are invited to learn about fitness, conflict resolution, deployment separation, coping skills and more during the healthy families conference April 30 at Maxwell Elementary School. The event will run 12:30 - 5 p.m. and will include workshops, an information fair and other activities.

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

Activities include fire prevention, evacuation demonstrations and a visit from the security forces working dogs. Base agencies will have booths and provide information.

"The children will have a full day of science, fire safety, crafts, all while learning to make healthier choices," Ms. Hixon said. "And it is all free."

"Everyone in the family will get something from this event, and the information will help enrich their family's lives," said Andrew Tveit, a personal and family readiness consultant for the AFRC. "This will be a great family activity that is wholesome, informative and fun."

Workshops will be held throughout the afternoon for age-specific groups: 5-12 years, teens and parents.

Parents and children can sign up for as many programs as they wish.

"The conference gives them the flexibility to build their own schedule," said Derrick Sanders, the chief of AFRC's family support branch. "We offer something for every member of the family."

The workshop registration deadline is April 27. Call AFRC at 953-2353 to enroll. No registration is needed to attend the information fair and activities.

Children ages 5 - 12 can play nutrition bingo or learn about bullying.

Family advocacy will provide cyber safety presentations, one for teens at 1 p.m. and one for parents at 2 p.m. A representative from the Montgomery Police Department will assist.

The goal is to help teens learn how to prevent cyber bullying and how to get help if they are dealing with a bully, said April Jones, family advocacy outreach manager. Parents will learn the advantages to being online and how to become tech-savvy.

"For children, technology has to be used in a safe environment, in a correct way," Ms. Jones said.

Chaplain (Capt.) David Del Prado will host two workshops based on Dr. Gary Chapman's books, "The Five Languages of Apology" and "The Five Love Languages of Children." The 2 p.m. workshop will focus on expressing regret, accepting responsibility and healing relationships. At 3 p.m. he'll talk to parents about how children know they are loved, meeting children's needs and building self-esteem.

The health and wellness center will hold three workshops. Tech. Sgt. Henry Myers, the diet therapy technician, will hold a nutrition workshop for parents, which includes a food bingo game. His program for teens, called "Bite Me," will help them make healthy food choices. Wanda Myrick, the health education program manager, will help parents recognize the signs of stress and develop reduction techniques, such as progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing.

For parents needing child care, the child development center will be open 1-5 p.m. for $20 per youth. There is no charge for those with a "give parents a break" certificate. A minimum of 15 children is needed to provide this service. Call 953-6667 by April 22 to register.

Mr. Sanders is thankful for all the base agencies who are participating, including developmental intervention services, drug demand and reduction program, and military and family life consultant program.

"Families should attend the healthy family conference because this conference will give them an excellent opportunity to add to their resiliency tool kit," he said. "They will leave this event better prepared to deal with the unique challenges and demands they face as a military family."