Illinois Operation: Military Kids is reaching out to our geographically dispersed youth of the Army Reserve and National Guard. Under the umbrella of OMK, Illinois has created a coalition among several organizations to support our military youth in various ways.
- Hero Packs are given to military children with a deployed parent/guardian. The packs include items to help the youth stay connected with their loved one and show community support to the family. Each pack includes a handwritten letter of thanks from someone in Illinois.
- Speak Out for Military Kids (SOMK) is a fabulous opportunity where all youth (both military and civilian) can learn leadership and public presentation skills to tell others about the experience of military youth & their families. The youth participating in SOMK are motivated and hone their skills in various forms of media to present the message of their design to community organizations, schools, churches, and clubs.
- Regional Youth Activities are held throughout the state for military kids where they can come together for fun while they find acceptance, support, and understanding of what they are experiencing during this time that their loved one serves our country. Some activities held include fishing days, day camps, military family days, FRG meetings, and mock deployments.
- Mobile Technology Labs (MTL) have arrived in Illinois and we are happy to be able to use these labs in assisting with portions of our SOMK trainings, as well as making Zoom Albums, and allowing youth to communicate with their loved one who is away (as well as with each other — new friends made through OMK are great to keep in touch with through the use of technology learned at OMK events).
- Ready, Set, Go Trainings are provided within our communities to teach local organizations and service agencies about the deployment cycle, unique stressors for our military youth, and how each of us can support them in practical, hands-on ways.
The organizations currently included in our coalition are: the University of Illinois Extension & 4-H, the National Guard, the Army Reserves, Boys & Girls Clubs, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, and Family Program and Community Service Staff of our military bases.