By Master Sgt. Daniel Palermo
Task Force Spartan
The goal is to make a child smile. Soldiers will volunteer through the Every Soldier is an Ambassador program and will play games with the children. The children in these facilities are fighting illnesses of varying severity. Participating soldiers will volunteer in a six-week rotation to participate in a playday with the children, in hopes of making their hospital stay happier for a few moments.
“It’s very important for the children because normally the hospital environment is very frightening and a stressful place for children, “said Ismailand.
“It’s not a place where a normal child should be. So, it’s very important that the children have adults who are willing to spend the time to be there for them. This gives them something to enjoy while they are still going through the hospital experience.”
There is no language barrier between the soldiers and the kids because play and fun is a universal language. Ismailand and Azizi say it’s a simple concept with tremendous benefits. Children in the hospital are vulnerable to emotionally stress but are full of excitement and energy when playing.
Additionally, play stimulates the imagination which helps children cope with difficult hospital situations. Azizi says that the children are always happy to welcome new playmates because it helps them get through the day. She adds that many children recognize volunteers as soldiers or Americans and understand that these people are taking time to play with them, which in turn makes the children feel special.
Additionally, the program gives the parents a few minutes to unwind and smile as they watch their child having fun with other adults.
“The volunteered services are very important for the parents because it allows them to step away and take a moment to breath and relax while another adult can have that role to play and spend time with their child.” said Azizi.
“Imagine being a mom or dad, and aunt or grandma and constantly worried about the child’s health. Then, a volunteer comes for an hour or two to lift that from them and they enjoy watching their kids smile with another person,” Azizi said. “For a slight moment, you don’t have to be that woman in charge of being strong, being the care giver, being the mother, being the parent. It’s a moment to step back and watch your child smile with another person.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION