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Walk and Talk
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Families stop to pick up items at one of the information booths set up during a previous Walk n Talk. This year, Walk n Talk will wrap up Month of the Military Child celebrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
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Parents, children invited to walk, talk

Posted 4/28/2011   Updated 4/28/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


4/28/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Walk n Talk, the culminating event to celebrate Month of the Military Child, will be April 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Castle Park. The event is free and interested families do not need to register to attend.

"Walk n Talk brings children, families and the community together as one," said Courtney Cann, Family Child Care coordinator and one of the event organizers. "Families are encouraged to get out, move and spend time together. At the same time, it gives them an opportunity to meet with representatives from a lot of different base and community organizations and learn more about what they have to offer."

The day begins as families arrive and pick up a passport at the first station. As they go from station to station, families pick up a stamp to put in their passport and are given a question to talk about as they proceed to the next booth.

"We made Walk n Talk a family tradition," said Fatima Lomot, who attended the first ever Walk n Talk with her daughter, Farron, and continued to attend for many years. "The laughs we had as mother and daughter going through the walking course is unforgettable. I don't know how to explain it, but we were just so happy going on the path, answering each question."

According to event organizers, the questions presented to the families are intended to help them better communicate and are related to the station they are at. Questions include: "What do you like best about living in your family?", "What is your favorite way to spend time with your parents? Your children?" or "What would you do if someone offered your alcohol or drugs?"

At the end of the walk, families may have worked up an appetite, so a free barbecue is available to attendees.

Over the years, Walk n Talk has grown and evolved. In 1997 only three families participated, however, 14 years later, the event averages about 300 participants and many base and community organizations attend.

Base agencies include Airman and Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, Health and Wellness Center, chapel, library, pool, fitness center, fire, safety, security forces and more.

"For us, it's about the outreach," said Erin Hennessy, Family Advocacy nurse, "We can interact face to face with the base populace. We get to distribute our materials and have the ability to interact with the family who may not be aware of our services or make a choice to access our services. We like the interaction with families and other base agencies in a relaxed, fun environment."

Because Walk n Talk has grown and evolved into a successful event, organizers were selected to present information about it during the 2011 Forging the Partnership DoD/USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Family Resilience Conference in Chicago this week.

On April 27 Kristen Melvin, Courtney Cann, Colleen Davis and Laurel Wironen, all from various base family services organizations, promoted the event to other Department of Defense family services representatives as a way to emphasize the importance of family communication, good nutrition, exercise and mental and spiritual well being.

"The Walk n Talk program can be accomplished at any military installation across the country," said Kristen Melvin, Child Development Center training and curriculum specialist and another event organizer. "We let people know that hosting an event such as Walk n Talk is a one stop shop to showcase all the wonderful resources available to your community in a fun and informative way."

Walk n Talk organizers submitted a proposal to be included in the conference after a family services specialist at Air Force Materiel Command suggested it may be a good candidate. Soon after submitting the proposal, they received word of its acceptance.

"Your proposal was reviewed by a subject matter team of professionals from across the country," said June Mead, conference program coordinator. "Because of the record number of outstanding submissions we received this year and limited conference space, we were only able to accommodate the top-ranked proposals. Being selected as a Program Showcase presenter recognizes the high quality of your submission."

Event organizers know Walk n Talk is an important event at Hanscom and fits in well with Month of the Military Child activities.

"We almost have it down to a science now," said Ms. Cann. "Although each year Walk n Talk may have a different theme or focus, we make sure to keep the popular stations and events for families to participate in. It's good for the families and it's a great way for base and community agencies to develop a relationship with the families so they can help if needed."

In addition to a free barbecue and passport booklet, participants will receive a free T-shirt and many handouts and giveaways from participating organizations. In case of inclement weather, Walk n Talk will be held May 7. For further information, call 781-377-3739.



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