April: Month of the Military Child

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Amelia Berres, 2, harvests some Brussel sprouts at the OAT studio after a hard workout with her mother, Sara.

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Steve and Sara Berres with their children (Amelia, almost 3, Jacob, 6, and Cameron, 8).

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Amelia Berres, 2, shows her mother, Sara Berres, how strong she is with weightlifting.

April: Month of the Military Child The month of April is most often associated with Spring and thought of as a time of renewal. Plants and flowers begin to sprout up from the ground, trees start budding, and baby animals can be seen everywhere following their mamas. But April in the military community is a time for recognition and celebration of the youngest members of a service member’s family…the military child.

The USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia (HRCV) loves to celebrate the military child every week of the year by involving them in activities for the whole family to keep them healthy, strong, and resilient. The USO Outdoor Adventure Team (OAT) program focuses on the fitness of adaptive athletes as well as service members, their spouses, and children. “Our goal at OAT is to provide a venue for military families to practice healthy habits,” said Vicky West, OAT Center Operations Supervisor. “Whether it’s working out, gardening to learn about how fruits and vegetables grow, or just relaxing, we want to foster an atmosphere of healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime.”

“Health and wellness are incredibly important to our family,” said Sara Berres, wife of an active duty U.S. Navy pilot. The couple have three young children (Cameron, 8; Jacob, 6; and Amelia, almost 3), and while they really love working out at the OAT facility, it’s more of a tool that allows them to go on adventures together without feeling limited, she said. “This past year, we took the kids and hiked about 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail (among countless other hiking trips). It’s wonderful to see the consistency and determination of our daily lives pay off in large feats for the children.”

Berres and her children are at the OAT facility at least three times a week. “The boys come with us too when they aren’t in school,” she said. “They love the healthy snacks, craft table and the children’s workout equipment,” said Berres. With her husband’s training and deployment schedules, Berres said it’s important to have a nice a place where they can just go and hang out even if they don’t want to exercise.

“We’ve been coming to the facility since Amelia was a year old and so it’s fun to see her observe and she catches on then copies me and joins in on the workouts,” said Berres. “I love to see her strength and determination grow.”

According to the Virginia Department of Education, there are 79,000 military connected children in the state. While recognizing April as the Month of the Military Child, take the time to celebrate “Purple Up! For Military Kids” in Virginia on April 20th and let them know they are strong, resilient, and supported by wearing purple clothing.

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