Help ASYMCA Celebrate Military Child Appreciation Month!
Written by Jeanine Rickman
Every year in April, the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) proudly salutes military children during military child month. While this is a time to celebrate the children of military families, it is also an opportunity for others to recognize the unique challenges faced by these extraordinary young people.
What It’s Really Like Being a Military Child
Military children face unique challenges at a young age while serving with their families. They undergo frequent moves, endure deployments and separations, and sometimes care for an injured parent who may have suffered during service.
As a military mom to three kids, our family has experienced our own share of struggles navigating military life. Here are some ways life is different growing up as a military child:
It’s a Life of Uncertainty
Many people know that military life is often unpredictable, but how does this impact military children specifically? It’s not just that military families generally move so much more often than civilian families, it’s not knowing what will happen next.
- It’s not wanting to commit to long-term plans that may lead to disappointment.
- It’s having their educational goals interrupted.
- It’s having their friendships constantly tested by distance.
As younger children transition into teenagers and young adults, these challenges impact their lives more and more.
It’s a Life Filled With Both Isolation and Community
Make no mistake, the overall military community is wonderful and supportive, but it still takes time to feel like you belong in a new place, especially when you are far from loved ones. Frequent moves means less continuity and stability for military kids. The ASYMCA reports that 43% of military families feel isolated from their communities. To alleviate this, the ASYMCA offers local support groups for military families to help them connect and build relationships with those who understand what they’re going through.
It’s a Life That Instills Resiliency
Coping with so many moves, transitions, deployments and separations, military kids and families definitely learn to “go with the flow.” Our children have said farewell to more friends than we can count, and still find a way to stay open to new friendships no matter how temporary. They also know that the possibility of moving is always around the corner, and are willing to make choices based on “just-in-case” we move soon, especially when it means not buying the biggest toys. They know that every time orders are up, we will donate many things to our community, so moving can be a bit easier. Knowing how to manage these challenges builds critical life skills, like patience and problem solving, which allow children to grow into resilient adults.
Ways the ASYMCA Supports Military Kids and Their Families
As the oldest military support organization in the U.S., the ASYMCA recognizes the importance of military child appreciation month and encourages everyone to show support for military kids everywhere. From fighting food insecurity to youth development and educational enrichment programs, the ASYMCA strives to improve the lives of military children by providing special free to low-cost programs and services to service members and their families. Many of their services are focused on building resilience in military families with children so that they can meet all of life’s challenges with confidence.
Ways to Celebrate Military Child Month
There are many ways you can join in celebrating military kids throughout the month of April and beyond. This is an exciting time to do some creative and fun activities with your family. Here are some of our favorite Month of the Military Child ideas:
Purple Up Day
Wearing purple is one of the best ways to celebrate the Month of the Military Child and show your support. Purple is the color chosen to represent and unify all of the U.S. Armed Forces. April 15 is the nationally recognized day to celebrate Purple Up Day for military kids, but it may be celebrated on other days depending on school breaks.
Read About Military Life
Read a book that highlights military life. Check local libraries to see if they are doing any special reading events for military child appreciation month. If you cannot find a book, consider making a simple book with your children that tells the story of your own family’s military journey.
Design a Wall That Builds Connections
If you’re a military family that hasn’t made a “Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or Deployment Wall” yet, military child month may be a fantastic time to do these activities with your family. PCS and deployment walls often include maps of where families have been and where they are going as well as other visual reminders to show how military families stay connected no matter where life takes them.
Decorate a Door
Consider decorating a door for the special military children in your life. Make sure to include purple, gold, and lots of fun images!
Celebrate With Crafting
Making a special craft or project is another fantastic Month of the Military Child idea for a family activity! Try making something like a decorated picture frame for a photo of them with the military service member who is important to them. Bookmarks and drawings are also great ideas. Get creative!
Starting a conversation by asking your child what they think it means to be a military child is a great way to celebrate military child appreciation month. You can write down what they say or have them write down something. Another idea is to write a thank you letter to a military child to let them know you value their contributions and sacrifices as well.
Many local bases and military organizations plan fun and engaging activities during April specifically for the military child month. We enjoy finding a place that lets you post notes of appreciation. The kids especially love when there are crafting events or field days filled with free family entertainment. You may want to find out if there are any exciting activities that highlight celebrating our incredible military kids in your area, such as creating a collage together, having family night Fridays, and asking family/friends to write encouraging notes for your military child to read. Another suggestion is to work with schools and other local organizations to show support for military children and acknowledge the unique qualities of military life.
Join the ASYMCA in Supporting Military Kids
Making a contribution to the ASYMCA is a great way to show your support for military children and their families year-round. Let military child appreciation month be the month you make a donation and enrich the lives of this special community of kids.