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Soldiers Helping The Next Generation
by U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Woodson - October 16, 2014

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, spent their Marne Time interacting with youths within the Columbus, Ga., community.

Nearly 25 "Hell Raiser" Soldiers returned and spent their Friday afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club of Chattahoochee Valley, Columbus, Ga., Sept. 19, 2014, in effort to bridge the gap between Soldiers and youth within the community.

Sledgehammer Soldiers jump rope with the youth attending the after school program at the Boys and Girls Club of Chattahoochee Valley, Columbus, Ga., Sept. 19, 2014. Nearly 25 "Hell Raiser" Soldiers returned and spent their Friday afternoon interacting with youths, in effort to bridge the gap between Soldiers and youths within the community. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Stephanie Woodson)
Sledgehammer Soldiers jump rope with the youth attending the after school program at the Boys and Girls Club of Chattahoochee Valley, Columbus, Ga., Sept. 19, 2014. Nearly 25 "Hell Raiser" Soldiers returned and spent their Friday afternoon interacting with youths, in effort to bridge the gap between Soldiers and youths within the community. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Stephanie Woodson)

"It's exciting to see the children get off the bus and run in to see their favorite staff member," said Tavari Turner, the Boys and Girls Club education specialist. "Majority of the kids that come during the summer do not attend during the school year."

Summer camp the activities are different. The children play outside more, go swimming and take trips to different places in Columbus. The after-school program is more focused on academics.

"Our goal is to ensure all students are on track to advance to the next grade, make sure they graduate on time and understand what they are learning," said Turner.

Turner recalls the first day the children got off the bus. He gave them his speech about making sure they study, complete their homework, ask question when they don't understand and most of all do the best they can.

"That's how it was for me when I was coming up in the Boys and Girls Club," he added.

Turner says it has been times where staff had to go to students school and talk with their principal and assistant principal to ensure the student doesn't fail or get left behind.

"We want to make sure we identify the problems before they become and issue," said Turner. "We are constantly thinking of ways to keep children excited about learning."

This year the Boys and Girls Club are exploring some new programs.

"The Chattahoochee Library system every Wednesday sends out, what they call 'the book mobile'. It's like having a library on wheels. The children have the opportunity to check out book. It's exciting to the kids and so far it get's them energized about reading and learning, as well as, give staff the opportunity to help other children with their homework," Turner said.

"I enjoy when Soldiers come out and volunteer," he said. "We have high school students who don't know what they want to do or just unsure."

The Soldiers taking the time out to volunteer and interact with the children and teenagers says and means a lot. People never really know the effect you have on a person just by sharing your experience, added Turner.

He said, knowing he could possibly help a student graduate on time or help correct and issue will keep him coming everyday.

"One of the reason why I volunteered and came back for a second time, was because hanging with the kids was a lot of fun and some of them reminded me of myself when I was grow-up," said Staff Sgt. Fay Ferris, mail room clerk assigned to 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID.

Ferris said, "I want to be an inspiration to the youth, hopefully motivate their life choices and inspire them career wise."

The first time she volunteered was during the club summer camp and it was more physical. This time is she was in the art room and had the opportunity to talk with the youths.

"In the art room, the youths learned about color and asked me question about the Army," said Ferris.

"It was very good to be here and I brought my son, Jayden, with me. It was good to see him interact with other children," she added. "I'm gonna try to bring my daughter, who just entered high school, next time."

Ferris said seeing the children jump rope brought memories of her childhood when she would single jump rope and play double dutch with her friends.

"I think this should be done in all units," said Ferris.

She said, "It doesn't necessarily have to be the Boys and Girls Club, it could be visiting Senior citizens."

By U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Woodson
American Forces Press Service
Copyright 2014

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