Military children and teens across the country demonstrate each day how resilient and talented they are. The Army National Guard Child & Youth Services Program has dedicated this page to highlighting the amazing accomplishments of our ARNG CYS teens. #GuardTeens
The following story comes from the great state of Kansas, and highlights a project that a former Teen Council member did in 2018.
Jessica Vanstory served on the Kansas State Teen Council during her time in High School. Jessica came up with the deployment kit idea after going through multiple deployments with her own family. She wanted to combine many of the most effective coping mechanisms and put them into a kit. The kit contained stationary for writing letters, a calendar with stickers to count down the days until the family member came home, and a jar of Hershey’s kisses so that the child could have a kiss from the family member each day.
The kits went to 150 children at Amanda Arnold Elementary School in Manhattan KS, which is a few miles away from the Army base Fort Riley. Jessica wanted to support military families, and saw this as a fun way to give back.
Jessica is currently a Music Education major at Kansas State University, and plays in the Marching band and the Wind Ensemble.
This is another great example of a National Guard Teen stepping up and helping her community.
You can view the media coverage this project received by clicking here.
Bethany Chacon, a teen who has served on the NM Army National Guard Teen Panel participated in the Boys and Girls Club Military Youth of the Year competition this past spring. She won the state competition and will compete in the Southwest Regional Military Youth of the Year competition in the fall. She was able to participate in this competition because of a partnership between the NM ARNG Youth Program and Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM.
Bethany has been a part of the Youth Center on the base since 3rd grade. During Middle and High School she got involved in many of the Boys and Girls Club programs that they offered. As she progressed through the program Bethany started taking on more leadership and mentoring roles. She served as a Teen Volunteer for two years where she helped set up recreation activities for the younger children. This past year was Bethany’s last year in High School and she decided to participate in the Youth of the Year competition.
This year’s competition had some different challenges than past year’s competitions. Bethany still had to write the essays, get the letters of recommendation, give a three minute speech, and submit her transcripts as required for the process. The speech was given over video, and the interview portion of the competition was done over video call. Despite these challenges Bethany rose to the occasion, and became the NM Military Youth of the Year. She received a $2,500 college scholarship for winning this competition. If she wins the regional competition she will receive an additional $20,000 scholarship and will have the chance to become the National Military Youth of the Year where she can earn even more scholarship money.
Bethany is just one great example of the youth who are a part of our programs. Thank you to the NM team who helped mentor and guide her along her journey.
Pictured: Bethany Chacon pictured with NM Lead Child & Youth Program Coordinator, Eric Ponce
If you would like to recognize a teen in your program, please reach out to Chris Hopkins (ARNG CYS Child & Youth Program Analyst) at email@example.com. Help us as we continue highlighting the awesome achievements of our military youth.