News: Marines, sailors reach out to local Japanese children on Okinawa
Story by Pfc. J Nava
OKINAWA, Japan - Marines and sailors aboard Camp Schwab spent a day with children from the Nagomi Nursing Home for Children at Oura Wan Beach, Sunday.
A day filled with fun in the sun, including a cookout, where children from the Nagomi Nursing Home for Children interact with Marines and sailors has been an annual tradition aimed to serve as an intercultural outreach program for the past nine years, according to Fumio Iha, Camp Schwab's community relations representative and event coordinator.
"It's a morale booster and definitely good for everyone," said Navy Lt. Jeff Parks, 3rd Marine Division chaplain.
It shows Marines many of life's problems can be solved by helping other people, and it provides the children with parental figures that some of them might not have, Parks added.
The Marines and sailors began the day playing with the children on the beach and in the water.
"At first they were a little timid, but they soon became comfortable with us," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Rhoades, a hospital corpsman with 3rd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. "We had a lot of fun out there playing with them."
The Marines and sailors cooked and served hot dogs and steak for the children after playing on the beach, which was promptly followed by more fun and games along the shore.
"Events like this promote good relations with our host country and local community," said 1st Sgt. Stennett Rey, first sergeant, 4th Marine Regiment, from Queens, N.Y. "It also helps show them [local nationals] we are here to support them."
When the children see and interact with Marines and sailors who are successful in life, it helps them aspire and dream to become the best that they can, according to Parks, a Bryan, Texas, native. Events like this help the children see things in life that are good.
"What we do here is for the kids," said Iha. "We show them that there is always someone out there that cares."