AK Child & Family was honored to have crew members from the Alaska Army National Guard Aviation meet with our students during this month’s Community Role Model program. The pilots and crewchief were diverse in their backgrounds and cultures; similar to the very students we serve.
Each guard member had their own perspective and story, helping create an environment of connectedness and energy that could be felt in the room. We broke into small groups, with each crewmember presenting their gear, answering questions and telling personal stories of overcoming obstacles, describing job related duties and their love of flying. One of the guard members is also a full-time police officer with the Anchorage Police Department and came in the APD uniform. This impressed one young man who said, “I thought it was so cool that he can fly a Blackhawk and be a police officer at the same.” The guard member and officer brought some of his SWAT gear to display as well. This was a huge hit with the older male students. The students’ engagement was at an all time high while talking with the pilots and they shared many comments about their experience with these “Real Life Superheroes.”
“I’m interested in joining the military, so it was cool to hear their stories.”
“I didn’t know police officers could be so funny. The officer had the best stories.”
“It was inspiring to hear them speak. It made me want to join the military even more.”
“I really enjoyed looking at all of the military maps and gear.”
“I wanted more time visiting with them. I hope they can come back soon.”
“Getting to talk to them individually was the best. We got to ask a lot of questions.”
“I liked seeing the helmet and all the safety gear that have to carry in their vests.”
“It was like talking to real superheros.”
“I found it very educational, lots of interesting facts.”
“They were cool, funny and awesome. They should come back again.”
“They inspire pride in our country.”
“It was a lot of fun talking to the helicopter pilots.”
“I am really interested in having a further conversation with the pilots, especially Officer Baker. I would like to talk to him more down the road.”
“It was an awesome experience to get to know the pilots, and their backgrounds of what they do to serve our country.”
Officer Baker, Ms Erickson, Mr. Rush and Mr. Malone
Our role models were impacted by the experience as well:
This visit to AK Child & Family for the Community Role Modeling program wasn’t my first with a group of coworkers. In fact, last year I visited with a different group of Aviation folks and on that occasion and this the people I asked to attend started out a little apprehensive and unsure about what they would talk about and how it would be received by the kids. After all, speaking in front of a large group of strangers can be intimidating, add in that kids in general aren’t shy about sharing their very candid opinions and our uncertainty of whether or not adolescents would be interested in hearing from an older group of professionals. However, on both visits, we all walked away looking forward to our next opportunity to visit with the kids. Ms. Erickson, one of this year’s visitors, was extremely impressed by the level of interest the kids had in our jobs and the questions that they asked, adding that of all the groups she met with “The girl’s group had the most impressive questions. One of the older girls was very detail focused in her questions, wanting to know all about the training that I’d completed to do my job, how frequently we train and so on. I was very impressed by her.” Officer Baker walked away so impressed that he didn’t hesitate to accept an offer for lunch with one of the cottages for additional mentorship time and Mr. Malone was already brainstorming ideas for how to make his next visit even more engaging and entertaining for the kids and additional ways he could help the agency. Every time I go to visit with the kids I walk away impressed with their attentiveness, goals and ambitions. One young man in particular told me of his passion for mechanical work which evolved into a discussion of how important and useful those skills are and how easily they can be turned into a long and rewarding career working on anything from his own car to highly advanced aircraft. In all, I would have to say that it was an equally rewarding experience for both the presenters and their audience.
Our students enjoyed learning more about the different gear used by our role models.
Our kids had an absolute blast learning from these role models and are looking forward to their next visit! We are incredibly thankful for the Alaska Army National Guard Aviation and Anchorage Police Department for their dedication to our community and their involvement with our youth!