TR Sailors Support School for Exceptional Children

Story Number: NNS120412-15Release Date: 4/12/2012 9:49:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Katie Lash, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) partnered with the Preschool for Educating Exceptional People (PEEP) in Newport News, Va., where six Sailors volunteered to assist students at the school's annual play for the parents, March 28.

PEEP is a school dedicated to children ages two to five who are mentally handicapped, or have other disabilities that make it difficult for them to attend a traditional preschool. Sailors volunteered their time to help supervise dozens of students before the play, while parents attended a parent-teacher association meeting. They continued to assist the students throughout the show by helping them get on to the stage as well as helping them perform, if needed.

The new partnership between TR and the school, which is expected to continue through May and pick up again in the fall, will allow Sailors to volunteer every Tuesday and Thursday at the school, as well as help out with special events, like the play.

Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Mark Leinaar, who has six children of his own, has volunteered with the school before and helped supervise the students before and during the event, as well as helping support a student on stage while he performed.

"I wanted to help out in the community," said Leinaar. "I think it's really cool they do this show with the kids. They really get a kick out of it and have a lot of fun."

The play, which has been put on by the school for more than ten years now, is one of play coordinator Pam Paster's favorite events. This year's theme was 'down by the bay,' and featured students in various beach, sea and sailor costumes performing a musical.

"The play lets children perform and have fun," said Paster. "It allows the parents to watch their children participate in something they may not be able to do later in life.

"We greatly appreciate all the help we can get with these events. I'm impressed that the Sailors took time out of their day to come all the way out here to help the kids."

Many of the Sailors who volunteered at the school's play have previous experience with volunteering.

All the Sailors who volunteered say they hope to continue to volunteer with the students at PEEP throughout the school year.

"It's really awesome to come out and help the kids perform and have fun," said volunteer Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class (AW) Jamil Allen. "I think more Sailors should take time and volunteer in programs like this."

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