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Service Impact Award Winner: Operation: Military Kids

by Greg Tucker

During the next few weeks, we will be profiling the winners of the 2012 Service Impact Awards. Look for their stories and videos here on the blog.

As military deployments became more common for National Guard and Reserve troops, the emotional strain hits children left behind especially hard. Operation: Military Kids (OMK) supports military youth age 5-18 with outreach programs to help them cope with the stresses of being away from their parents serving far from home.

OMK program components developed by AmeriCorps and VISTA members enhance deployment cycle resilience through life skill development. The national initiative is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense, and delivered through a grant received by the University of Arizona 4-H Youth Development.

One component of OMK is the Digital Speak Out Military Kids program that helps military youth learn how to share their stories of a loved one being deployed through the use photography, video, and podcasting while emphasizing digital storytelling and resilience skill development. Another is the OMK Career Pathfinders Summer Camp, where teens participate in a residential summer camp on the University of Arizona campus and get the opportunity to explore a variety of post-high school career options and life skills.

Recently, the OMK Digital Speak Out Military Kids program and OMK Career Pathfinders Summer Camp were recognized as “best practices” during the 2011 and 2012 National 4-H Military Liaisons and OMK Project Directors Meeting. The programs were also recognized during the 2010 Children Youth & Family At Risk National Conference for their continued impact and deployment support for military youth.

Operation: Military Kids was selected as one of the winners in the Veterans and Military Families category in the 2012 National Service Impact Awards.

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