COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Children from West Lowndes and Columbus High Schools participated in a Too Good for Drugs program Feb. 23 here to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Airmen from the base volunteered to help organize and manage activities which focused on children staying healthy and making smart decisions for their future.
“We are incorporating military culture with a Too Good for Drugs program which is handled out of the community counseling service office in Columbus,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Tara Dixon, 14th Operations Group chaplain. “We wanted to give the children a chance to learn about the Air Force culture while enforcing healthy decisions and positive behavior.”
Col. Anthony Sansano, 14th Mission Support Group commander, welcomed the children to the base and talked to them about the importance of healthy living and smart decisions.
The group then observed a Military Working Dog demonstration. Tech. Sgt. Karl Stefanowicz, 14th Security Forces Squadron kennel master, followed Sansano by narrating the actions of MWD Dito. The children watched as the dog chased, tackled and wrestled Senior Airman Raymond Dwonznik, 14th SFS MWD handler, to the ground and with one stern command returned to his master, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Juarez Andrade, also a 14th SFS MWD handler.
After the MWD demonstration, the children were then separated into five groups and formed up in a military-like formation. Staff Sgt. Mariel Constantino Rodriguez called out a few warm up exercises in a military-training instructor fashion.
Next the team leaders led their groups to one of five stations; the first station had two parts, the first was a strength exercise where three or more children flipped a heavy tire a few times. The next part involved the children running through a series of tires, place each step through each tire to better their agility.
The second station was the selfaid buddy care station. This station demonstrated what to do if the children need to help an injured friend. They took turns learning how to do a two-man carry and a single-man carry.
The third station focused on self-defense and involved the children defending themselves against the simulated assailant Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Chargualaf, 14th SFS installation patrolman. The children were given a cushioned baton and had to make Chargualaf, who was outfitted in a red man suit for safety, comply with their demands.
While they were fighting Chargualaf, Tech Sgt. Miguel Stewart, 14th SFS NCO in charge of training, asked random questions such as their birthday, what they had for breakfast, their favorite sports team and so on.
Stewart explained that the children have to be focused and calm in order to safely defend themselves. The fourth station focused mainly on calisthenics. Two instructors showed the children how to correctly do push-ups, squats, various stretches and more.
The final station was another strength building station that involved body armor and sand bags. The children put the vests on and grabbed a sand bag and ran about 150 yards. Once they returned to the station, they did squats and lifts using the sand bags like medicine balls.
“I think the purpose of the obstacles was to challenge the children and see how they react under pressure,” said Airman 1st Class Joseph Van Dyke, 14th SFS installation patrolman. “This program not only helps the children stay healthy but improves the relation between the local community and our base.” After the final station, the children were taken to the 14th Flying Training Wing Chapel where lunch was provided.
Dixon said that this program is great because it shows the children that a little structured discipline will help them make smart life decisions and it allows them to see firsthand what Team BLAZE is all about.