MCBH hosts walk, expo to support families
By Kristen Wong
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | April 18, 2014
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Autism Awareness Month
Keiki Aloha Expo
National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Pinwheels for Prevention
Silver and blue pinwheels spun and glinted in the sunlight, drifting along a sea of approximately 270 Marine Corps Base Hawaii participants during the Pinwheels for Prevention walk, which preceded the third annual Keiki Aloha Expo at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, April 11, 2014.
The walk was based around the national Pinwheels for Prevention campaign, established by the nonprofit organization Prevent Child Abuse America, which promotes awareness of child abuse through public displays of pinwheels.
Marine Corps Community Services Hawaii staff members distributed approximately 300 pinwheels and promotional bags to participants, who began the walk from Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, heading down Manning Street and continuing down Lawrence Road. The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band’s party band Marines provided musical accompaniment while the Provost Marshal’s Office escorted the group. The walk ended at Riseley Field with participants tying nearly 300 pinwheels to the fence.
The expo kicked off shortly after the walk, in the golf course’s Fairways Ballroom, featuring more than a dozen vendors and organizations from on and off base providing resources for military families, such as the New Parent Support Program and Military OneSource. More than 130 parents and children attended the event. Diane Whitcomb, the NPSP manager, remarked that this was the best turnout to date for the Keiki Aloha Expo.
“The vendors (said) they had a lot of people come and talk to them,” Whitcomb said. “There was a lot of interest in the information they had to offer for the families. I think (the expo) was a great opportunity for the families to get to know (various) military and civilian services, (as well as exploring new) products available to them.”
Parents could chat with various representatives while collecting brochures and promotional materials. Children met McGruff the Crime Dog, played with toys and games, and made special fingerprint identification cards with PMO.
“We love it,” said Amber Blue Ill, a base resident who attended the Keiki Aloha Expo for the first time. “This is huge. I thought it would be simple. It exceeded my expectations.”
Ill said she and her friend did not know what the expo was about and decided to check it out. She initially thought that it would just be a fair with commercial vendors, but remarked that there were instead helpful resources and organizations that support families. In addition, she looked forward to the one of the three small workshops, which featured a guest speaker offering tips on handling a child’s challenging behavior.
During the second workshop, parents gathered information about breastfeeding. The last workshop of the day was Parent-Child Circle Time, where parents and children played interactive games together.
Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger first designated April to honor military children with the Month of the Military Child in 1986, according to militaryonesource.mil. Approximately two million children worldwide are children of active-duty service members, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. They undergo many unique experiences, such as frequent moves, deployments, parent injury or death.
Locally, schools with military children were encouraged to wear the color purple Tuesday in support of the 3rd Annual Purple Up! For Military Kids Day, coordinated by the Hawaii State Department of Education and the U.S. Army’s Hawaii Operation: Military Kids.
“Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is a combination of Army green, Marine red, and Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force blue,” the website’s flier reads. “Wearing purple is also a military expression that symbolizes loyalty to a joint service operation. Operation: Military Kids hopes everyone will take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate Hawaii’s young heroes.”
For more information about upcoming events at MCB Hawaii, visit www.mccshawaii.com or call 257-7784.