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Special guest inspires Hanscom children
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Trevor Romain, a best-selling author, illustrator and humorist, tells a funny story to children from the Hanscom Middle School June 21. Romain paired up with the USO and travels to bases worldwide speaking to children about the everyday struggles of being in a military family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
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Special guest inspires Hanscom children

Posted 6/26/2013   Updated 6/26/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Foster
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

6/26/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- There is a moment for every military child when they realize they are different from children in the civilian world. There is a unique strength that comes along with having a military family; a recent guest to the base made sure the children of Hanscom realize just how special they are.

Trevor Romain, a best-selling author, illustrator and humorist, has traveled to schools, hospitals, summer camps and military bases worldwide for more than 20 years. He concentrates on providing real-life lessons for kids, such as dealing with bullies, facing fears, coping with divorce and understanding grief.

Romain has also teamed up with the USO for a "With You All the Way!" tour to help military kids deal with the everyday problems they face, such as deployment of a parent, wounded parents and coping with the loss of a loved one.

He visited the Hanscom schools June 21 and gave a presentation that, according to his website, www.trevorromain.com, emphasizes the importance of caring for one another and developing valuable strategies for dealing with the unique challenges of military life.

After being introduced to the middle school, Romain began by telling the children how much he appreciated the sacrifices they make.

"Thank you so much for what you do," he said. "You didn't ask your mom or dad to join the military. You all are a secret branch of the military so pat yourselves on the back."

He quickly had the kids hooked as he told jokes and then demonstrated how to take deep breaths to get through stressful situations. Romain connected with the children by making sense of their feelings and putting it into terms they could understand; he explained that if they weren't able to get their feelings in order, it could feel like a closet full of jumbled stuff and nobody wants a messy closet.

After playing an episode of his award-winning PBS series for the group, he discussed the content with the kids. The video covered topics such as bullies, homework and cliques. He followed up with questions about how they felt when they were bullied and if they had ever bullied anyone before. One child answered by saying when she was bullied, it felt like what once was a sunny day, now turned into a cloudy day.

Romain made sure the children understood some useful coping strategies, no matter which side of bullying they were on.

He also encouraged the children to take a stand and told them not to wait for grown-ups to change the world because they were too busy and have too many meetings.

"Our military families and students here make such a huge sacrifice and we can see the struggles they go through on a daily basis," said Erich Ledebuhr, Hanscom Middle School Principal. "It's one of the biggest things we deal with at our school and the fact that the USO was able to bring this in here today really was a tremendous treat for our students."

It was apparent that Romain had a positive impact on many of the students throughout the presentation. Several were emotional and Romain made sure to take them aside and give them some positive encouragement when he was done speaking.

"I think events like these are important because as a military kid, your parent gets deployed a lot and you get really stressed," said Bridgette Alpar, Hanscom Middle School student. "Having someone come and talk to us was really nice."

Each child also received a kit from the USO containing all six of Trevor's animated DVDs, a journal for the child to express his or her feelings, a companion journal for their parents and a book, The Art of Caring.

The students were able to see the support from around the world during a playing of the "With You All the Way!" music video that inspires people to reach out to someone in need and stand by someone going through a tough time.

The presentation wrapped up with a chant from the kids that echoed throughout the gym.

"We're with you all the way!"

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