There’s no doubt that Marine Corps kids have a lot of heart and are passionate about military life. Just watch this viral video of kids on a playground during retreat at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina.
The moment “To the Color” starts playing in the distance, they come to a stop and stand at attention, showing respect for the flag. What you don’t see are the difficulties Marine kids face every day, like coping with a parent’s combat injury, deployments or frequent moves to new duty stations.
To address these issues, the award-winning website Military Kids Connect® was created, the only Department of Defense resource developed specifically for military youth and their psychological health. The program’s innovative resources are designed to improve the lives of kids, tweens and teens who are facing the challenges of military life and to help them connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
Here’s a sampling of what Military Kids Connect has to offer:
- Graphic novels and videos of real military tweens and teens on dealing with stress. These stories feature kids going through shared challenges, whether it’s moving or dealing with a parent’s deployment. Check out this video of 8-year-old Danny and see how family members help him out during his Marine dad’s long deployment.
- A newly relaunched Message Board. Kids can share their stories and hear from others about coping with military life.
- Information on how to deal with tough topics, such as a parent’s injury, deployment and the unthinkable — the loss of a parent. Watch how Gabe copes with one of the hardest times in his life after his Marine dad’s death. The animated series follows Gabe as he goes through mourning, remembering and moving on. Tell Your Story, a forum for sharing videos, words and humor. One way to cope with stress is to talk about it. There are tons of ways for military kids to share what they’re going through — drawing a comic strip, learning to scrapbook or making a digital short story. Help your Marine kids get creative and artsy in telling their story, so others can understand.
- Games that help kids cope with their feelings. Stress Blaster lets you shoot balls at stress monsters and At Ease distracts you with a mesmerizing puzzle. Choose from 10 fun games that relate to what any Marine kid might be feeling.
Military Kids Connect is a safe online community where military kids can interact, whether it’s to share their military pride or to seek support and advice. Military Kids Connect also has sections for parents and educators to help adults understand what it takes to support military children at home and school.
By Kelly Blasko, Ph.D. — Kelly Blasko, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist leading the mobile web program for Defense Health Agency Connected Health. She is an internationally recognized expert in using technology to improve the well-being of military children and their parents, including the development of the award-winning Military Kids Connect® and Sesame Street for Military Families programs. Currently, she manages projects to increase the adoption of behavioral-health apps in primary care within the Military Health System.