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BASE NEWS: Redstone Arsenal unveils building for military children
Redstone Arsenal, Ala. I On April 3, during the Month of the Military Child, Maj. Gen. James R. Myles dedicated a $6.3 million facility to the children of military personnel stationed at Redstone Arsenal.
The Myra M. Garriott School Age Services Center is named for the woman who worked with Army Child and Youth Programs for 15 years until her death three years ago. Due to her leadership, School Age Services (SAS) was accredited for the first time by what is now known as the National AfterSchool Association (NAA). As a result of her devotion, it is now one of the top three SAS programs in the Army.
Mrs. Garriott arrived in 1999 after being personally sought after to become the chief of Redstone’s Child, Youth, & School Services (CYSS) program. The program is an integral part of the Army’s mission. It allows soldiers to concentrate on their specific duties within the Army without worrying about the kind of environment their children are in during their absence.
During an interview at the new facility, Gen. Myles pointed over a hill to where most of the civilians and military personnel work at the arsenal. He said the work of those individuals is not nearly as important as the center. “This building is our center of gravity,” he said. “The kids are our future.”
CYSS provides professional staffers who create, manage, and implement quality developmental programs while soldiers keep the nation safe. A soldier rarely works 9 to 5. CYSS provides support during a soldier’s irregular or extended duty hours, deployments, and temporary duty assignments; this is often a major comfort to a soldier who must concentrate on the mission at hand.
The Myra M. Garriott School Age Services Center is a state-of-the-art facility that offers multiple opportunities for children to grow and learn.
The center has a youth demo kitchen and play area, four youth activity rooms, arts and crafts, performing arts, recreation, two youth education rooms, a computer lab with 12 new computers, a homework center, three atriums that feature billiards, football, and air hockey tables and a large indoor multipurpose area. There is also a welcome center, two administrative offices, an industrial kitchen for large capacity cooking and a staff lounge.
For safety purposes, the facility is encircled with a fence and monitored by a modern digital camera system. The 22,602-square-foot facility will operate year-round to provide services for military children. During the school year, it will offer a part-day preschool, as well as before- and after-school services. During the summer and extended breaks, the school will convert to a full-day program to ensure that soldiers’ duties and responsibilities are not disrupted.
More than 50 students attended the grand opening, as well as Huntsville, Ala., Mayor Tommy Battle and others who played a role in getting the center built. Larry Garriott, Mrs. Garriott’s widower, also attended.
After the ribbon cutting, Mr. Garriott said the experience was “fantastic” and “overwhelming.” The building will feature a large plaque, both inside and outside: “Dedicated in honor of Myra Garriott, a devoted mother, wife, friend, and patriot whose selfless service and diligence became the cornerstone of excellence for Child, Youth and School Services throughout the Army and Civilian Family Community, 1954-2006.”
Children from the local elementary school were free to roam the center after the ceremony and get a firsthand look at what was in store for them.
“This is the coolest place I’ve ever been in,” said John, 10.
A little girl told her teacher she wished her mom and dad would take her to the center every day. “There’s so much to do,” she said.
“This was the right thing to do…. There is a lot of love here today and this building will always contain Myra’s spirit,” Gen. Myles said during the ceremony.
C.J. Grisham is a soldier stationed at Redstone Arsenal. He also writes for soldiersperspective.us, youserved.com and militarypundits.com. He does not represent an agency of the United States government, expressly including, but not limited to, the Department of Defense, the United States Army, or Redstone Arsenal in any official capacity.
By Brahma Chellaney
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