The future of Iraq is in the youthful smiles of today

332nd Air Expeditionary Wing
Story by Staff Sgt. Marianne Lane

Date: 11.06.2010
Posted: 12.04.2010 08:20
News ID: 61358
Operation New Dawn-Iraqi Kids Day

BALAD, Iraq - Military members of all ages opened their arms to children during Iraqi Kids Day Nov. 6, 2010, Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

The day of activities focused on fun, health and mentorship, a blending of cultures for the children from the local area.

"The Iraqi kids really made me feel good. It gave me a the chance to connect with them, which is what I have been missing since I have been here,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Lilly, 332 Air Expeditionary Wing Ground Safety non-commissioned officer in charge of programs. Sgt. Lilly has three children and has been away from them for two and a half months.

This program is an avenue for local outreach to improve community relations to win the hearts and minds of the future of Iraq. Kids participated in games such as pingpong, soccer, bean-bag toss, blowing bubbles, arts and crafts, and health and dental education and more during the five-hour event.

There were more than 150 base volunteers, and more than 130 children in attendance. Everyone involved created energetic memories to last a lifetime,” said Capt. Daniel Coleman, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group executive officer and Iraqi Kids day program coordinator.

“The excitement of the kids was written all over their faces, and just letting kids be kids is very rewarding,” said Capt. Coleman. “We are trying to provide a safe, structured environment for the kids to interact with U.S. personal.”