Are you interested in supporting an organization that is dedicated to the academic, emotional, and physical well-being of National Guard children? Then, consider Operation Kids on Guard which is a unique program supporting military children through enriching and engaging social and educational events.
Started in 2004 and organized as a 501 (c) 3 in 2006, Operation Kids on Guard supports children that are experiencing the deployment of a primary caregiver, at a time when children often feel emotionally overwhelmed but unable to articulate their feelings. Such children are at special risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviors, academic issues, and even “premature adulthood”. While they struggle to understand the absence of their military loved ones, they simultaneously share the stress and struggles of those family members remaining at home. Operations Kids on Guard gives these children a safe place to share their fears and to interact with other children like themselves that are experiencing smilar personal circumstances.
As a way to provide support, Operation Kids on Guard partners with events of the North Carolina National Guard Child and Youth Program, and organizes day or weekend drills held at armories, military training sites or other locations. During these events, children learn basic drill and ceremony, military occupations, military training and teamwork. Soldiers and Airmen volunteer their time by sharing pictures of places in which they have served and encouraging children to ask quetions, express thoughts or share feelings. Service members also bring hands-on equipment or set up static displays, such as helicopters, Humvees, tanks, and trucks to teach children about the types of equipment their loved one may use in the military. A favorite part of the events typically are team-building exercises, such as sportsmanship, land navigation, rappelling, and rocketry and STEM activities. The children sleep in tents/barracks and go through the chow line, just like their military loved ones.
Children leave these events feeling re-assured about how well-trained their loved one is to handle the deployment, and feeling more secure about how well- trained their loved one is to handle the deployment, and feeling more secure about their own abilities to handle the challenges at home while their loved one is away.
Operation Kids on Guard has expanded significantly over the past ten years. Since its inceptions, the program has expanded to add educational outings to nature centers, museums, zoos, ball games, state parks, aquariums, and farms. The expansion allows children to engage in events geographically close to where they live in order to make new friends, continue friendships, find battle buddies, and gain strength from other military kids just like them. Since 2004, over 3,000 NC National Guard children have participated in our program as many children have experienced deployment of a primary caregiver multiple times. It is a reward that a number of participants have continued to stay with the programs after finishing high school, in recognition of the meaningful impact it had on their lives.
Operation Kids on Guard helps children to become proud patriots and resilient members of military families, who are well-adjusted to meet the challenges they face. A happy child at home helps our Guardsmen not to worry as much about their family, while away, thus allowing them to have a better focus on their mission. While not the primary purpose of the program, Operations Kids on Guard strives to reiterate that the GUARD IS FAMILY.
If you find these programs important, please consider donating to Operation Kids on Guard. Your support will allow the program to continue the quality events that our children deserve.