News: Day of fun caps year of mentoring
Story by Sgt. William Smith
FORT CARSON, Colo. - The sound of revving truck motors, children’s laughter and barking dogs could be heard at Iron Horse Park during the fourth annual Camp Fort Carson, May 9, 2014.
The event is held as the conclusion of the Adopt-a-School Program, which is designed for Soldiers to mentor school-aged children in the surrounding communities. Currently, there are about 40 units enrolled in the program.
“The Soldiers work very closely with the children, mentoring them on the importance of staying in school and focusing on their studies,” said Manuel Pedraza, school liaison officer, Fort Carson.
“The interaction between the children and the Soldiers is priceless.”
A teacher with one of the schools enrolled in the program believes that it builds and strengthens the bond between the post and the local community.
“My students really look forward to when the Soldiers come in to read to them,” said Christina Moore, fifth-grade teacher, Weikel Elementary School, Fort Carson. “The camaraderie I have seen developed between the children and Soldiers is heartwarming. These children will grow up and be the future leaders of our country. This program shows them what the military has to offer.”
For military children, it helps to fill a void they feel when a parent is deployed, Moore said.
“I will hear quite often, ‘Even though my Dad is gone right now, I have someone who still cares and is supporting me while he is away,’” said Moore.
A Soldier in his first year with the program said he cannot wait to participate again in the future.
“This is amazing for the children,” said Pvt. Ellis Coleman, wrestler, World Class Athlete Program. “It is more than wearing the uniform when you are serving your country. Giving back to children in this way is what it is all about. It is important for them to have someone to look up to. It is important to show them that the uniform means more than just protecting our country.”
Coleman feels that it is important for all children to have a mentor and this program provides Soldiers with that opportunity to be someone’s role-model.
“I think this helps keep some of them off of the street by having a positive influence on them,” he said. “It is the small things that matter.”