Ft. Hood Armed Forces Mentor Southwest Key JJAEP Clients
On Saturday, April 12, staff and students from Bell County JJAEP (Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program) volunteered and participated in a 5k run/walk for Human Trafficking Awareness as part as Global Youth Service Day 2014. Paul Anderson and his wife came in at 93rd and 95th place during the run.
Anderson has been a Southwest Key employee for two years and is the Program Director of Southwest Key’s Bell County JJAEP. “I’ve always enjoyed working with students that are considered the “underdogs”, says Anderson. “I enjoy the challenge in assisting them to see their true potential in life and seeing them accomplish their goals.
During the 5K run/walk, the students learned that human trafficking occurs in the local Killeen area and not just in urban areas. They also learned that it involves youth within their age group. “They learned about giving back to their community by witnessing adults and other youth sacrifice a Saturday morning to volunteer for a good cause,” says Anderson.
In Bell County, Ft. Hood plays a big part in the community and learning to address the needs of students with parents who are actively serving in the armed forces is unique to Bell County and a handful of students in Texas. “Some of the challenges are motivating students that have found the regular classroom setting to be an enormous obstacle and convincing parents and students the importance of education,” says Anderson.
Anderson and JJAEP Educator, Kristy Adcock come up with alternative activities for the students to enjoy and learn. “Adcock is the key to our classroom. She is always thinking of ways to enhance the educational activities in the classroom and deserves a lot of credit for the classroom successes we have,” says Anderson.
Southwest Key’s goal is to provide an alternative education to at-risk youth because traditional methods have not worked for the vast majority of the population. “It is our job to discover new methods in educating the students, being creative and designing lessons and activities that are cross-curricular. For example, the program started a gardening project for the students because it ties science, agriculture, mathematics and life skills into one project. “The garden teaches them nurturing skills, self-sufficiency and long term accomplishment.”
They planted corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe. Students and the local pantry will hopefully benefit from the garden.
Last month, March 6, the students took a trip to Ft. Hood to witness an exhibition by the First Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army and visit with their mentors from the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force mentors are volunteers that have adopted Bell County’s JJAEP Campus. Many of the soldiers come from similar backgrounds and share their stories with the students by giving them insight into how the military operates.
During the First Cavalry Exhibition, the students learned about all the different skills that it takes to be in the 1st Calvary. The soldiers showed them how they care for the horses, necessary warfare skills that the Calvary uses, different weapons, blacksmithing and leather making skills.
“It is important for young people to see opportunities that are available to them beyond high school,” concludes Anderson. “They also get an appreciation for men and women serving their country.”