2017-2018 National Youth Activities Ambassador
Involve Youth in Auxiliary Activities this Spring!
Spring is finally here and it’s a wonderful time of year to celebrate our veterans, active-duty military and their families. There are so many opportunities for youth to show their appreciation for these individuals by participating in Auxiliary projects, promotions and events throughout April and May.
April is Month of the Military Child and also includes the following holidays and days of appreciation:
- Easter (April 1): Read my last blog post for five ways to involve youth in your Easter festivities.
- Gold Star Spouses Day (April 5)
- Earth Day (April 22)
Month of the Military Child
The Department of Defense has designated April as the Month of the Military Child. This annual commemoration began in 1986 by then-Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, and is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy. It is a time to acknowledge the role military children play in supporting our armed forces and the unique challenges these youth face.
According to a Department of Defense Special Report, there are 1.82 million military children. Below are several ways your Auxiliary and youth in your community can honor and recognize military children.
- Host a special breakfast or lunch for military children – Let military children be the guests of honor and ask non-military children help you prepare for the event by cooking, decorating, etc.
- Organize an Adopt-a-Military-Child Program in your community – Pair a military child with a non-military children and/or family. It could be an excellent way to develop understanding and stronger relationships between military and civilian children.
- Purple Up! – Wear purple on Friday, April 13 and show your support for military kids. Why purple? The color represents the combination of all branches of the military: Army green; Marine Corps red; and Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force blue. “Purple Up! for Military Kids” began in 2011 as an initiative of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension 4-H Military Partnership. Though it’s not a Department of Defense program, the DoD has welcomed it and the initiative is now celebrated nationwide.
Gold Star Spouses Day is April 5. This is a day to remember and pay respect to the surviving husbands and wives of the Fallen of the U.S. Armed Forces. Encourage youth to acknowledge these individuals by sending a card and/or flowers, singing at a Gold Star ceremony, or asking the surviving spouse to share stories of their fallen service member.
Earth Day is April 22 and is a wonderful time for youth to participate in beautification projects in your community. Invite youth to help your Auxiliary members:
- Plant trees, shrubs and flowers at your Post Home, veterans home, local park, etc.
- Clean up your community! Grab a few trash bags and pick up litter along a road, in a park or neighborhood.
- Clean-up the yard at the home of a veteran.
While working with youth, be sure to talk with them about areas of emphasis under our Youth Activities program. There is probably something else we do that they would like to participate in! Make sure to send in a Youth Groups Supporting Our Veterans Citation Request Form and thank youth for their participation!
May holidays and days of appreciation will be here before we know it! Now is a good time to start reaching out to schools and youth about how they can participate in and support your Auxiliary projects.
May is National Military Appreciation Month and also includes the following holidays and days of appreciation:
- Loyalty Day (May 1)
- Victory in Europe Day – V-E Day (May 8)
- Military Spouse Appreciations Day (May 11)
- Mother’s Day (May 13)
- Armed Forces Day (May 19)
- Memorial Day (May 28)
We must always remember as we Catch the Dream for Our Veterans, the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow; the leaders of our country, our communities, and our own organization. By engaging them through the goals of our Youth Activities Program, we can enrich their lives while they learn about our veterans and the sacrifices our nation’s service members made so we can enjoy the freedoms we hold dear.