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Operation: Military Kids
Bridging the gap between military and civilian teens

Participants in Operation: Military Kids enjoyed a wide variety of activities at MacDill during their visit June 3.

Courtesy photo

In an attempt to bring awareness to issues facing military youth, the 4-H Operation: Military Kids program brought together military and non-military teens from across a four-county area to MacDill June 3.

The group of enthusiastic young people, many of whom have never set foot on a military installation, gathered at the Youth Center. After, a tour of the base, bowling and lots of fun exercises, the group got down to the business at hand. Equipped with knowledge gained from Family Support Center staff members, military spouses, the state's National Guard chaplain, former service members and a teen panel comprised solely of military teens, they developed strategies and solutions to combat some of the issues facing military families.

Now their challenge is to take what they have learned back to their communities and "speak out."

The Operation: Military Kids program is a national initiative that has been in existence for nearly two years. The state of Florida is one of the participating states. Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties serve as the nucleus of the organization for Central Florida.

The program is an extension of an existing partnership between 4-H and the Department of the Army. For nearly 10 years, the 4-H program has been bringing educational, leadership and fun activities to the youth on military installations nationally and internationally. In fact, Hillsborough County 4-H is the liaison agency for an Air Force Base in England. Through the Operation: Military Kids program, 4-H and the University of Florida Extension Service seek to create community support networks for military youth "in our own backyard" when parents are deployed.

For more information on the Operation: Military Kids program, contact Flo Hervey at 744-5519 ext. 115. (Courtesy of MacDill Youth Center)

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