The Department of Defense (DoD) has made a concerted effort over the past few years to increase support programs for military families. In response to health concerns regarding military service members and their families, DoD recently completed the pilot phase of the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), a demonstration project to examine select military installations’ efforts to support improved nutritional choices, increased physical activity, obesity reduction and decreased tobacco use. The HBI is part of Operation Live Well, the DoD program that supports the National Prevention Strategy of improving Americans’ health and well-being through a prevention-oriented approach. DoD’s goal is to implement best practices learned from the bases participating in the HBI, and provide a map or guide for installations to use in creating healthier communities.
“It is designed to identify effective ways to improve health and wellness of the total force, including civilians and family members,” noted Semper Fit & Recreation Branch Head Catherine Ficadenti, Marine and Family Programs Division. “Fourteen pilot sites throughout each of the military branches of services are participating to include our two: MCAGCC Twentynine Palms and MCB Quantico. Initiatives that were identified as evidence-based or promising practices that improve nutritional choices, increase physical activity, reduce obesity and tobacco use, have been implemented at all pilot sites.”
In addition to the HBI, DoD has launched several initiatives to help installations on the road to wellness. The “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” (IMIL) Train the Trainer program is a DoD-wide initiative extended to all branches of service. IMIL is a partnership between the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the DoD 13-state childcare initiative. ...
In an effort to provide more outdoor learning and play environments for children and youth on base, the Air Force has launched an initiative that will include the creation of Nature Inspired Outdoor Play Environments (OPEs) and Accessible Playgrounds (APGs) at Child Development Centers (CDCs) and School-Age Programs (SA Programs) Air Force-wide.
“The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) provided Air Force Child and Youth Programs funding to add/alter/ renovate selected OPEs at the CDC for ages 6 weeks-5 years, SA Programs for ages 5-12 years, and Youth Programs (YP) for ages 9-18 years,” explained Child Development Program Section Chief Patti Mehrens, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Directorate of Services. “We have 57 projects with approximately 170 age-specific OPEs planned, with 63 APGs awarded.”
Mehrens pointed out that for the “Natural OPEs” funds are available to Airman and Family Services (AFS) Flight Child and Youth Programs (CYP) to enhance their OPEs while incorporating nature components. ...
Providing ample opportunities for wounded warriors to participate in recreation and sports activities has proven to be a great benefit to all involved, from the participant to those who are tasked with running these adaptive programs. The Department of Defense (DoD) continues to provide inclusive training for fitness, sports and recreation staff members, through partnerships with the department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Penn State University, as well as many veterans’ groups.
The Marine Corps and the Army are at the forefront in the area of inclusive programming, equipment and facilities, and continue to improve on and grow already strong support networks for wounded warriors and their families.
The Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM) has shown a strong commitment to providing better access to facilities and programs, as well as supporting installations looking to adapt programs and add more adaptive equipment to meet the needs of wounded warriors or those who have physical limitations.
In fiscal 2014, the Army made a large central purchase of adaptive and inclusive equipment (see list on next page), which included a single bulk purchase of 31 items for 18 garrisons, both in the Continental U.S. (CONUS) and outside the Continental U.S. (OCONUS), according to IMCOM Soldier and Community Recreation (G9) Operations Chief Sam Sakorafis.
“The adaptive equipment will assist garrisons offering adaptive and inclusive programs and encourage wounded warriors to participate in physical activities,” said Sakorafis. “Over 500 items, including hunting, fishing, archery and adaptive fitness equipment were sent to 18 garrisons to support warrior transition units. The list of adaptive and inclusive items was drafted after market research was conducted. OSD provided adaptive equipment packages to select garrisons in 2010, and the intent this time was not to replicate the items that were already at the garrison, but provide new items that would further expand/enhance programming.” ...
As a leader in the area of inclusive training and programming, the Marine Corps continues to build on its solid foundation with new and ongoing partnerships and initiatives.
“Inclusion is not a program, but an operational philosophy that Semper Fit & Recreation has embraced,” explained Semper Fit & Recreation Branch Head Catherine Ficadenti, Marine and Family Programs Division. “Inclusion is an attitude and a philosophy that welcomes and supports all eligible patrons. It conveys the idea that we appreciate each person, as an individual, and value their skills and abilities while being offered the opportunity to participate with others. Inclusive programs support communities where patrons with and without disabilities live, learn and recreate together. Inclusion guidance will be included for the first time in Recreation Policy to provide standardized practices for the field, and is expected to be signed in 2015.”
In 2014, Marine Corps Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainers (CIFTs) and Semper Fit & Recreation staff partnered or continued to partner with Family Care’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) staff.
With nine fitness centers on base, as well as numerous outdoor sports fields and training support areas, the need for safe and program-specific surfacing at MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C. is a top priority.
The recent opening of the $22.7 million, 104,000-square-foot Wallace Creek Fitness Center on base in 2013 is a good example of the different types of surfacing and flooring needs that have to be considered for such a multi-use facility. Not only did the base have to plan for and consider indoor surfacing questions — for group exercise rooms, fitness equipment areas, gymnasium and the High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) program areas — they had to plan for the outside as well, including sports fields, track and outdoor HITT areas that have been created.
The facility’s main program areas include a climbing wall; an indoor track; an indoor pool; two NCAA basketball courts; five flex rooms (group exercise rooms); a functional fitness room; a 50-bike cycle theater; two racquetball courts; a fitness weight area; a Cardio Theater area; a juice bar; and an outdoor artificial turf area (45 feet by 200 feet).
The facility used Mondo for the special surfacing needs for the track, fitness areas and outdoor training areas, which feature artificial turf. Southern Flooring provided surfacing for basketball courts and aerobic rooms.
The HITT program, which is a comprehensive combat-specific strength and conditioning program essential to a Marine’s physical development, combat readiness and resiliency, requires a combination of indoor and outdoor facilities, and different surfacing for each. “The outdoor turf and functional training area are vital tools active-duty Marines can take advantage of in order to improve their job-specific combat readiness (Combat Fitness Test), and overall physical performance,” explained Wallace Creek Fitness Center Manager Brian Crawford. “Key components of performance-enhancement training are strength, power, speed, agility and endurance.”
The Coast Guard recently announced its annual Morale, Well-being and Recreation (MWR) Program of the Year award winners (see list). The award is designed to recognize noteworthy MWR accomplishments of varying size units, whether afloat or ashore.
“We are proud to recognize these commands for their accomplishments!” said MWR Specialist Robert Davis, Coast Guard Community Services Command.
MWR Program of the Year Winners
LARGE ASHORE UNIT
CG Base Cape Cod, Mass. (First)
CG Base Kodiak, Alaska (Second)
CG Training Center Petaluma (Third)
MEDIUM ASHORE UNIT
CG Sector Lake Michigan (First)
CG Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii (Second)
CG Air Station Miami, Fla. (Third)
SMALL ASHORE UNIT
CG Station Chatham, Mass. (First)
CG Air Station Houston, Texas (Second)
LARGE AFLOAT UNIT
CG Cutter Kukui (First)
CG Cutter Boutwell (Second)