School Children Learn Military Life, Coping Skills During GTMO USO Presentation

Story Number: NNS110211-03Release Date: 2/11/2011 5:33:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leona Mynes, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- W.T. Sampson Unit School students aboard Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, learned social, physical and mental fitness skills during a presentation by the United Services Organization (USO) and the Trevor Romain Company and Foundation, Feb. 9.

The 1st and 2nd grade students watched a video presentation about building self-esteem, how to cope with bullying and the unique challenges children face when one or both parents are in the military.

After the video, Trevor Romain, motivational speaker, spoke with the children about the uniqueness of a military family's' lifestyle and told the children they are never alone in struggles they may have with a parent's deployment.

"Your friends, your school, your community, and your country are with you all the way," said Romain. "You have important jobs to do, supporting your family members who are in the military. You are no ordinary kids; you are all very special."

Romain encouraged the children to voice their feelings about a parent's deployment.

"It's okay to be angry, and it's okay to be sad," explained Romain. "It's knowing what to do with those emotions that's important."

One thing children can do when they are angry or sad about a parent's deployment is e-mail questions to the Trevor Romain Company and Foundation, said Stephanie Pridell, a social worker who is part of Romain's team.

Pridell's father was deployed for approximately one year while she was growing up.

"I know what these kids are going through," said Pridell. "I came from a military family and grew up all over the world."

Katarina Courson, a second grader whose father has been deployed three times since she was born, copes with deployments by keeping her 'daddy cat' with her.

The 'daddy cat' is a stuffed animal that plays messages from her dad, like "I love you," and "I miss you."

"When my dad is gone, I play with that toy and feel better," said Courson. "I learned how to help people, how to not be afraid of bullies and how to not be so sad when my dad deploys. I'm really glad they [USO] did this for us as military kids."

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