America Supports You: Pentagon Parents Craft Day of Fun, Learning
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 24, 2008 It was déjà vu in the Pentagon’s center courtyard today, as children gathered with their parents for arts and crafts as part of 16th annual “Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day.”
Air Force Col. Rod Dorsey watches his sons, Joshua, 9, left, and Ben, 13, paint a T-shirt as part of the Pentagon's observation of the 16th annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day." About 1,000 children and their parents participated in the April 24, 2008 event in the Pentagon's center courtyard. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Last year, about 500 children took part in the event. This year, about 1,000 children arrived at the nation’s top military headquarters.
For the second year, the event, hosted by the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, featured Connect and Join and its sponsor. The family support and education services publishing company organized the day’s activities, which included sand art, T-shirt painting and numerous other craft projects.
Connect and Join is a corporate supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
“We left last year totally exhausted but amazed at the response,” said Linda Dennis, Connect and Join’s founder.
But a repeat performance didn’t mean it was a carbon copy of last year. Some of the activities were the same, but there were some new ones, as well.
“The sand art is real focused on America Supports You,” Dennis said. “(Children) can actually make an America Supports You logo.”
The new twist on the sand art project from last year was joined by new crafts, including sun-catcher painting, foam crafts and an expanded T-shirt painting station. “Everything that we coordinated today is kind of hot, big and things that the kids will love to use,” Dennis said.
One of those items, the Klutz Build-a-Book Kit presented by Scholastic, features everything needed to create an original spiral-bound book. It seemed to be a favorite of some of the older kids.
“It comes in like a little kit, and you get a whole bunch of little foam stuff and textured backgrounds so you can put it all together,” said Kayla Taylor, 14. “It’s really cute.”
In addition to a day off from school and some fun crafts, Kayla said, she was enjoying the building’s atmosphere. “I just think it’s really cool that I get to be here, because a whole bunch of important stuff happens around here,” she said.
Kayla’s mother, Neshe Taylor, handles budget issues for the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs’ administration and management office.
Though the younger kids were just having fun decorating small tote bags or painting sun catchers, some also got an education on the building itself.
Raylene Walls-Alston, an administrative assistant for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for eight years, decided her daughter, Jada, 5, was old enough to appreciate today’s events and learn more about what happened here before she was even born.
“Being here on 9/11, my daughter just hears about the Pentagon and hears about 9/11, and she knows absolutely nothing about it,” Walls-Alston said. “I’m telling her the history of the building, the new side vice the old side.”
After a warm morning spent in the courtyard crafting, Walls-Alston took her daughter inside and gave her a tour of the building, including the 9/11 memorial.
In the end, Gatlin Edmonds, 5, summed the up what the day was all about in one simple phrase: “[I’m] working with my daddy,” he said.
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a national public education program created by the Ms. Foundation in 1993. It was originally set up to introduce girls to career options, but evolved to include sons in 2003. This is the fourth year the Pentagon has recognized the day.