“Thank you for your time, effort, and dedication to our kids!”
“Thank you so much for everything you and so many others do.”
“You are awesome!”
These are some of the comments that OMK PA has received from families who have benefited from programs in our great state. Since September 11, 2001, over 20,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members have been deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Add to that the number of PA reservists and active duty personnel, and the number grows even higher.
An estimated 32,000 + children in Pennsylvania have at least one parent currently serving in either the National Guard, Reserve, or Active Duty component of the military. In Pennsylvania, Operation: Military Kids strives to provide support to these children through various programs during this difficult time. We recognize the sacrifices these children make and want to commend them for their courage.
OMK in Pennsylvania was implemented in 2007 and is administered through Penn State Cooperative Extension.
As a team, we believe that supporting children on the homefront is helping to support military personnel on the warfront. Knowing that their children are being looked after at home by family and community allows military members to focus on their mission abroad. We strive to provide support for all military children with an emphasis on children of deployed personnel. OMK PA also strives to increase community awareness of issues, both physical and emotional, faced by these youth. Programs are being established to support and empower military youth.
Currently, the OMK PA program offers the following programs:
· Hero Packs are given to school-aged military children who have a parent deployed. They are a token of appreciation for the sacrifices these children make while a loved on is deployed.
Ready, Set, Go! Training (RSG!)
· Trained individuals from around the state conduct trainings to schools, community organizations, support agencies, etc. in order to increase awareness and support that children of deployed military face.
Speak Out Military Kids (SOMK)
· New members are being recruited for the SOMK program in Pennsylvania. These youth, both military and non-military, receive training on public speaking, media equipment, press releases/written announcements, etc. In addition to having the opportunity to “speak out” on behalf of military families they also gain life-long skills and build self-confidence.
Mobil Technology Lab (MTL)
· Portable computer labs used to facilitate connection between deployed family members and children and youth left behind. Labs contain laptops, printer/scanner, wireless router, digital camera, camcorder, and various hardware and software. Please contact OMK in Pennsylvania‘s Central Office or a state partner for more information on loan procedures for MTL.
· PA OMK is working hard to provide children and families with special programs and events throughout the year. Some special events have included an OMK sponsored Fun Run, a sleepover at the Carnegie Science Center for military families, participation at Military Appreciation Day at KennywoodAmusement Park and participation at a Welcome Home event through the Butler VA.
Kissing Hand Loaner Kits
· The book, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn is one of several Army Child & Youth Services initiatives in place to help reduce stress on children impacted by the Global War on Terrorism. The kit, available for loan through the PA OMK office, includes the book “The Kissing Hand”, Chester the Raccoon puppet, an activity book and other resources available to military families. Contact PA OMK to borrow this kit.
If you would like to be on a mailing list to be kept apprised of upcoming OMK activities as well as other special programs of which OMK becomes aware, please contact Susan Smith, OMK Project Coordinator, at the above contact information and provide her with your mailing address, email address and ages of children.
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