Ellsworth youths learn to BOUNCE back

  • Published
  • By Airman Christina Bennett
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Military children face a unique set of challenges. They move frequently, having to leave friends and family members behind. They survive through deployments, where one or possibly both parents are away from home.

Many military children learn to be resilient without knowing what the word means.

The BOUNCE youth resiliency series is a free program developed to introduce military children to the resiliency skills necessary to get them through difficult times.

“BOUNCE is an acrostic that spells out the message of the curriculum. It stands for: Be optimistic, observe your thoughts, use your strengths, never give up, communicate effectively and embrace you,” said Joanne Amundson, a 28th Force Support Squadron work life specialist. “It makes sense – the whole concept of being able to bounce back from the daily stressors that kids have in life.”

The children will participate in discussions and activities that promote them to think their way through their issues.

“The workshops will consist of an overview of resilience [using] the ABC model, which has to do with activating brain events, accomplishing goals, balancing thinking, body image, self-concept, checking your play book, finding your purpose, good listening and responding to good news, mindfulness, practical optimism and using your strengths,” said Amundson.

One activity uses a balloon to represent stress. The balloon is inflated every time the children come across a stressful scenario, such as being late for school or forgetting homework. Eventually, the stressors add up and the balloon pops. Then the children try the activity again while thinking of ways counteract some of the stressors.

The children are taught to be prepared and to focus on the circumstances they can control.

“Airmen are taught the same skills during the First Term Airmen Course,” said Dennis Wier, the 28th Bomb Wing community support coordinator. “[BOUNCE] is being placed out at the youth level so that [the kids] can learn resilience earlier on in life and are prepared to go on to middle school and high school with these skills in their pockets.”

At the moment, the program focuses on children ages 9 through 12-years old.

“As a development specialist, it’s the perfect age. They’re called tweens for a reason because they’re in between that still a kid and almost a teenager stage. It’s a very confusing time just on a normal life basis, now you add deployments, [temporary duty] and other separations,” said Andre Killkelley, the youth center’s program specialist.

Ellsworth Air Force BaseĀ­ already provides a number of programs for children once their parents have deployed, but this program is proactive in preparing the children before separations and deployments.

“Ideally, we would like to be able to do this quarterly; that’s what we’re building toward,” said Wier. “Instead of always reacting to problems after a parent deploys, we’d like to build the skills beforehand.”

BOUNCE started at Air Force Air Mobility Command and was first held at Ellsworth AFB on Oct. 11. Ellsworth AFB will be the first Global Strike Command base to offer this program.

The program will be open to the entire Ellsworth AFB community, including Army National Guard members and their families.

“This is just another way we’re reaching out to help our Ellsworth family,” said Wier.

For more information reach out to the Ellsworth AFB Youth Center at 605-385-2277.