UA’s Arizona Operation: Military Kids Boosts Resilience

Sydney Cope does the high ropes course as part of Arizona Operation: Military Kids, a program designed to build resilience in kids whose parents are in the military reserves. (Photo by Donna Kreutz)
Sydney Cope does the high ropes course as part of Arizona Operation: Military Kids, a program designed to build resilience in kids whose parents are in the military reserves. (Photo by Donna Kreutz)

Standing on a crossbeam 40 feet above ground was scary enough for a girl who’s terrified of heights. But to lean back and step off – trusting the harness and the spotter below to keep the line taut and lower her safely – that took courage.

That’s the kind of trust and confidence the Arizona Operation: Military Kids, or Arizona OMK, program builds.

Since 2005, thousands of children of military reservists in all 15 counties have participated in Arizona OMK. Unlike kids on military bases, who share the experience when their parents ship out, children of reservists may be the only ones in their schools who have parents serving in the military.

The award-winning program is based at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and implemented through UA Cooperative Extension and affiliated 4-H Youth Development programs across the state, with a network of nonprofit organizations and volunteers. The program is funded nationally through land-grant colleges by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense and Department of Army.

Arizona OMK is all about building resilience and life skills for military youth from kindergarten through high school. The experiences support team building, communication and problem-solving skills, how to adapt to change, build self-esteem and foster responsible citizenship, said Teresa Noon, who heads Arizona OMK. She’s been the sole staff member since the UA program began.

Lots of life skills are integrated into high-ropes adventure events.

The first time Sydney Cope climbed to new heights, she was shaking and terrified. Two years later, the high school sophomore scampered up the pole with confidence. “You go, monkey,” her mother cheered. Then she stood high and alone on the beam for a very, very long time – waiting for her little brother to climb up and join her.

The high-ropes adventure race is one of many experiences designed to support geographically dispersed military youth throughout Arizona during all stages of a family member’s deployment.

Read the rest of this October 16 UANews article at the link below.

Date released: 
Oct 23 2012
Contact: 
Teresa Noon