The Armed Services YMCA of Hampton Roads is currently running multiple Operation Hero sessions in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News and Suffolk. A ten-week, after school enrichment program designed for military children and the unique challenges they face, Operation Hero focuses on different topics using fun, engaging and interactive lessons and activities. Topics include identity and self-esteem, respect, honesty and integrity, feelings and caring, deployments and separations, problem solving and more.
Military life provides so many opportunities… and unique challenges. We understand. Operation Hero was created specifically for military kids. Through engaging and interactive lessons, trained facilitators help students learn the importance of what their military parent does and the personal sacrifices they make to keep our country safe. While gaining a deeper understanding and respect for their parents’ demanding service, they come to realize their essential role in their military family.
The Armed Services YMCA Hampton Roads is able to offer this program at no-cost to military families thanks, in part, to an amazingly generous KidCents Regional Grant from the Rite-Aid Foundation. This grant helps us to underwrite the costs of snacks, supplies and materials for this crucial program. “The Rite Aid Foundation is committed to being a caring neighbor and making meaningful differences for the children and families who live in the communities we serve,” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. KidCents Regional Grants support nonprofit organizations with programs that serve children, grades K-12, and improve quality of life in Rite Aid communities. The grants support three of KidCents' primary focus areas for improving the health and wellbeing of children: healthy eating, active living and education.
The impact of Operation Hero is far-reaching and ever-expanding. This grant allows us to continue to build the program to better meet the needs of our military family. A program parent recently told us, "Operation Hero has changed my son's life in such a short period of time. Being a part of Operation Hero has been a wonderful experience."
Program participants get more than just lessons about these incredibly important topics. They also get support and connection, and, sometimes, a new-found belief in themselves. "You learn lots of stuff about being a military kid and deployments. Not only are our parents heroes, but WE ARE HEROES because we help with chores, our brothers and sisters and we are there for our parent," shared a recent Operation Hero grad. Our Heroes also get the opportunity to practice and develop their skills in navigating new social situations and sharing ideas with a group. We are so thankful for the Rite-Aid Foundation and our amazing community of military kids and HEROES.
"People need to stay positive a lot more because it helps all of us feel good about ourselves and each other. Everybody has a story and comes from a different place with different experiences. We need to be there for one another. We are PROUD MILITARY children!"