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Army focuses on kids' well-being

POSTED: July 14, 2013 10:00 p.m.
Photo by Samantha B. Koss/

Dance students perform during the “Seasons of the Sun” recital June 31 in Fort Stewart’s Woodruff Theater. Twice a year, students in the Schools, Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited program hold a recital to showcase their skills.

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Fort Stewart children performed in their biannual dance recital June 31 at the installation’s Woodruff Theater as part of the Schools, Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited program.
The SKIES Unlimited program operates under the Army-wide Child, Youth and School Services program that provides care programs for children and youth from 6 weeks up to 18 years of age. It also offers sports, fitness and instructional programs.
“Wherever you find a post, there will be a SKIES program under CYSS,” SKIES Unlimited Director Shirelle Womack said. “We offer tutoring, instructional programs and camps all year-round to keep children active.”
The SKIES Unlimited program is designed to support the academic, life skills and athletic experiences children and youth have within Army CYSS programs and in schools, she said. It offers classes ranging from ballet, dance and tap to ju-jitsu and tae kwan do. Twice a year, the dance class holds a recital to show off new skills.
This summer, the recital theme was “Seasons of the Sun,” and students danced to songs associated with winter, spring, summer and fall.
“All of their classes have a special event to wrap up the season or end of the year,” Womack said. “In the winter, the students danced to Christmas songs, so we mixed it up for the summer.”
Students range in age from 2 to 17. Younger students imitated their teachers’ dance moves on stage, while older students performed memorized routines that included ballet and gymnastic maneuvers. The audience applauded as students executed advanced moves, such as synchronized flips and cartwheels.
“We have introductory classes and advance classes to meet the needs of all our students,” Womack said. “SKIES allows children to explore different activities to see what they like or what they are good Fort Stewart children performed in their biannual dance recital June 31 at the installation’s Woodruff Theater as part of the Schools, Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited program.
The SKIES Unlimited program operates under the Army-wide Child, Youth and School Services program that provides care programs for children and youth from 6 weeks up to 18 years of age. It also offers sports, fitness and instructional programs.
“Wherever you find a post, there will be a SKIES program under CYSS,” SKIES Unlimited Director Shirelle Womack said. “We offer tutoring, instructional programs and camps all year-round to keep children active.”
The SKIES Unlimited program is designed to support the academic, life skills and athletic experiences children and youth have within Army CYSS programs and in schools, she said. It offers classes ranging from ballet, dance and tap to ju-jitsu and tae kwan do. Twice a year, the dance class holds a recital to show off new skills.
This summer, the recital theme was “Seasons of the Sun,” and students danced to songs associated with winter, spring, summer and fall.
“All of their classes have a special event to wrap up the season or end of the year,” Womack said. “In the winter, the students danced to Christmas songs, so we mixed it up for the summer.”
Students range in age from 2 to 17. Younger students imitated their teachers’ dance moves on stage, while older students performed memorized routines that included ballet and gymnastic maneuvers. The audience applauded as students executed advanced moves, such as synchronized flips and cartwheels.
“We have introductory classes and advance classes to meet the needs of all our students,” Womack said. “SKIES allows children to explore different activities to see what they like or what they are good at and maybe will want continue on with.”
SKIES Unlimited programs are offered to dependents of soldiers, national guardsmen and reservists, retired military members, Department of Defense employees and contractors. Children ages 2 to 17 can participate in the Fort Stewart program, and there is a monthly fee associated with each class. Sometimes these fees can be waived.
SKIES Unlimited is part of the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation program and the Army Family Covenant, which is another program meant to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families.
Thanks to Covenant funding, deployed service members can receive free SKIES Unlimited classes for their children, Womack said. Also, there is no limit on the number of family members who can receive these free classes. These benefits begin 30 days before a deployment and continue 60 days afterward.
“More than half of our students have one parent deployed,” she said. “These students can get $300 toward class, which means they can go a whole dance season with that all covered by Army Family Covenant.”
The program also benefits students with disabilities and those who need extra academic help. Students at every grade level can learn from certified tutors.
“We also offer classes for home-schooled children,” Womack added.
State laws require home-schooled children to participate in extracurricular activities, and SKIES Unlimited provides classes to meet those guidelines.
“We offer an array of classes for every type of student,” she said. “They just need to be enrolled in a school.”
Students are required to show their report cards to participate in classes.
“Those who participate in our program say nothing but good things about it,” Womack said. “It is a great way for children to learn new skills and interact with others their own age.”

 

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