Guest post by Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Today, there are over 2 million children of active-duty U.S. service members, National Guard Reserve, and military veterans. On average, military families move every two to three years. This means that by the time a military child graduates from high school, they may have moved ten or more times and attended anywhere from six to nine different schools.
Additionally, there are approximately 2.3 million children under the age of 18 living with a disabled veteran in communities across the U.S. Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Healthier Generation) is a proud member of the Hidden Helpers Coalition, a group of 80+ organizations who have pledged to support and uplift these young people.
That’s why we are using Camp Fire’s Absolutely Incredible Kid Day® as an important opportunity to identify, encourage, and recognize Hidden Helpers and all military youth in our communities. This day gives us an opportunity to honor and celebrate their unique resilience, strength, and character.
Below are three ideas from Healthier Generation and our partners at Blue Star Families. Try them on Absolutely Incredible Kid Day® in March and continue celebrating youth in your life through Month of the Military Child in April and beyond.
Mapping Your Identity
Adults who give space for young people to share their identities can build more inclusive and connected learning environments at home, at school, and in the community. One way to do this is by using an identity map. An identity map is a graphic tool used to share, learn, and reflect on the aspects that shape who we are. It can include words, drawings, or photos that describe what makes each of us unique.
Getting the Conversation Started
Healthier Generation believes asking unique, engaging questions is just one of many ways we can better connect with each other, In collaboration with our partners at Blue Star Families, we developed a one-of-a-kind resource and learning activity, Quality Time in No Time. This 10-minute learning activity includes free printables, like Silly and Speedy Conversation Starters.
Here’s a conversation starter to try this Absolutely Incredible Kid Day®: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Play Together in Nature
Nature-based activities are a great way to connect and sustain relationships with young people while supporting mental and physical health. Created in partnership with Blue Star Families, Nature BINGO includes 20+ activity ideas perfect for your Absolutely Incredible Kid Day® celebration. Two of our favorite BINGO squares include, “Host a neighborhood field day,” and “Try a new food and learn about its cultural significance.”
Which of these three ideas will you try? What would you add to the list? Share your experience and tag Healthier Generation on social using @healthiergen. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #KidDay2023!
Resources for Supporting Military Youth
- Blue Star Outdoors: https://bluestarfam.org/family-life/blue-star-outdoors/
- Fostering Belonging with Military Families: https://www.healthiergeneration.org/articles/fostering-belonging-with-military-families
- Hidden Helpers Coalition: https://hiddenheroes.org/resources/hiddenhelpers/
- Mapping Your Identity: https://www.healthiergeneration.org/articles/mapping-your-identity
- Nature BINGO: https://bluestarfam.org/outdoor-explorers-family-activities-bingo/
- Silly and Speedy Conversation Starters: https://www.healthiergeneration.org/app/resources/1410
- Start the Conversation: https://bluestarfam.org/2022/12/start-the-conversation/