Youth deployment line teaches kids about parents’ jobs

Ilamiel Nunez and other children learn defense techniques from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

Ilamiel Nunez and other children learn defense techniques from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

The 435th Security Forces Squadron K-9 unit does a demonstration for children during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

The 435th Security Forces Squadron K-9 unit does a demonstration for children during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Bidwell, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron member, explains defense techniques during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Bidwell, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron member, explains defense techniques during the Kids 4 Kids monthly event Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

The 86th Construction and Training Squadron hosted this month's Kids 4 Kids event at tent city Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

The 86th Construction and Training Squadron hosted this month's Kids 4 Kids event at tent city Feb. 27, 2009, at Ramstein Air Base. K4K is a monthly program for children with a deployed parent with events designed to help children understand better what their parent's do while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Amber Bressler)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The sound of military cadence could be heard in the background of the 86th Construction and Training Squadron tent city, but this was not a flashback to basic training, it was the sound of students learning what it is like to deploy--just like their parents. 

Kids4Kids is a partner program between Ramstein Intermediate and Middle Schools for students with at least one deployed parent. The Feb. 27 event showed the students what it is like to be deployed. 

At the start of the day, the students were given a pre-deployment checklist before they could head to the fictitious downrange--also known as back to school. 

Some of the tasks they were responsible for were a physical training test, self-defense skills that had them donning protective gear and eating in a dining hall. 

"The goal of the event is to show the kids what it is like to walk in their parents' boots--literally," said Stan Cindrity, 435th Services Squadron teen center director. "This event focuses on teamwork and integrating elements of fun with learning." 

The 75 participants in the program had a great time learning about some of the things their parents do. 

"The kids are really excited about getting a taste of what their parents do," the director said. "They can understand the medical side required from their parents and also the health standards." 

Although the Kids4Kids program is only in its fourth year, it has had increased support from the community.
"It is a worthwhile program, and it would behoove us to keep exploring it in the future," added Mr. Cindrity. 

The students who participated in the program not only learned, but also had a good time.
"It was a fun experience," said one fourth grade participant. "I got to meet new people and learn what my parents do. My favorite part of the day was putting on the special equipment called battle gear." 

One of the main priorities of the program was to show kids they are not alone.
"This day gives them the opportunity to not feel stranded," said Ricardo Buitrago, Ramstein Middle School psychologist. "It allows them to bond as a group and talk to each other. The kids have had great enthusiasm, and I think they really have enjoyed today. 

With many of the children learning just exactly what their parents go through, to actually donning combat gear, they were ready at the end of the day to get their well earned dog tags. 

"Today has been a total success," Mr. Buitrago said. "The kids got out of it what they are supposed to, and I look forward to this next year."