Families prepare to 'Walk' to Afghanistan

31 May 2012 | Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson

It’s almost time to lace up the boots, tighten those walking shoes and head to Afghanistan. The C-bags can stay at home, but friends, families and youths are all invited to join at the Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for the Walk to Afghanistan Kick-off event at 3 p.m. June 6.

“To kick off the event, participants will walk around the block one time (and) the children at Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion will continue to walk towards their goal of 7,300 miles to Afghanistan,” said Ashley Henderson, assistant director at the Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion. “Many of the children’s parents are deployed to Afghanistan. We wanted to show our support at the Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion for our children and their families overseas.”

Already a bold, intrepid endeavor, the walk goes even further than the 7,300 miles needed to reach Afghanistan. The walk has an added educational bonus, noted Henderson. The event, which is the first walk to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the event, both pays tribute to the service members carrying out the mission in Afghanistan and educates the youth that participate.

One of the overall goals for the walk is to promote physical fitness and healthy lifestyles, said Henderson. On top of that, those involved will gain a greater appreciation for the distance traveled by their loved ones.

“It provides a sense of connection and excitement,” said Henderson. “We also plan to have the children write to the military members deployed to Afghanistan.”

This is not the first time that the team at Tarawa Terrace and the military community rallied for an epic journey. Earlier, a walk ventured the 684-mile trek to Disney World, and the new adventure has upped the ante for the long haul to Afghanistan as the youth pavilion continues its support of youth fitness and health education.

“We love what we do and we love to support our military children and their families,” said Henderson. “We are teaching our children the importance of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle, modeling this through our previous walk to Disney World and our new journey to Afghanistan.”

The event is open to anyone, and participants should arrive at 2:45 p.m. June 6, to sign in and receive a pass so they can attend the festivities at the Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and the initial walk start shortly after and end around 4 p.m., said Henderson.

Participants won’t walk alone. Active-duty service members are encouraged to support the event and are welcome to dress in the same uniform worn by their fellow service members in Afghanistan. In addition, the event’s leadership will join the crowd at the starting line for the ribbon cutting and the walk around the block.

This isn’t the last of the opportunities open to the area’s youth, added Henderson. The All American Summer Camp 2012 will kick off June 11 and run until August 24 as well.

“Our staff have been working very diligently, planning and preparing for an awesome summer camp experience,” said Henderson. “(We) would love for your children to join us on our summer adventure together.”

Families can register at Resource and Referral, located in the Tarawa Terrace II Child Development Center aboard MCB Camp Lejeune.

For more information or to register, call 450-0553 or 450-0554.