Despite pandemic lockdown school age children program still providing care


Story by Connie Dickey 

U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden    

WIESBADEN, Germany – The school age services program on Hainerberg Kaserne has about 30 children in its program now but is slowly getting to full operation after the lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have always wanted to work with children and I have been here for almost two years now. I have really enjoyed working in this program and with the children,” said Anias Atwood, assistant director of the School Age Center, Child and Youth Services on Hainerberg.
The program, which is geared to children from 6-12 years old, offers before and after school programs, weekend activities during the school year and summer care and camps during school vacations. Care is provided by trained staff and operations are subject to Department of Defense certification.
The program also has partnerships with 4-H and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and helps children learn to work with their strengths, interests and each other. They offer programs in the core areas of leisure, recreation and the arts; sport and fitness; life skills, citizenship and leadership; and mentoring and support services.
Atwood explained that since the COVID-19 lockdown the program has been open mainly for priority care families. The lockdown required that only a limited number of spaces be available at the center.
“It has been challenging, but we can and do provide care,” Atwood said. The children wear masks, the children have their temperature taken before they are allowed inside and the parents can no longer come inside the building.
The children are also not allowed to flow freely through the center and must stay within their own pods, or designated areas.
“We sanitize all the surfaces and toys the children come into contact with. We clean before and after the children leave, so that is something that we will continue to do,” Atwood said.
She and her staff are gearing to a full operation of services but that will depend on the Health Protection Conditions of the base.
Although the program is restrictive now, the children say they like the program and the chance to play with their friends.
“What I like about the program, it is good here, I like that I can play tech time with my friend Luca, and we do free choice and art activity,” said Jonathan Thompson Jr.
Milani Hernandez said, “I like that you can see your friends and play with them. My favorite things here is to play with others and our Barbies during free choice.”
“I like that I am not bored all day. I also like that I can be able to play with my friends and there’s a lot of stuff and things I can do and play in the program,” Elizabeth “Ellie” Gardner said.
“My favorite things to do here is during arts and crafts. Teachers always provide art activities that I like to do,” she said.
Play time is a recurring theme for all the children.
“I like that I can play a lot here! I also like the teachers here. They are nice to us. My favorite things I like to do here is to play with Barbies and to play with my friends,” said Elizabeth “Emy” Dutton.
“I like that we can do tech time, play outside and that we get to play with our Beyblades during free choice,” Vaughn Bryan said. “I also like movie day every Thursday and water play every Friday.”
Luca Viamonte said, “I like playing with my friends and the bouncy house. I also like playing Beyblades during free choice and the modeling behavior chart, where we can get rewards. My favorite things to do here is playing with my friends and playing tech time.”