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Westover hosts 2019 Youth Outreach Day

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen Underwood
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. — Approximately 130 students from local high schools in the area around the base participated in the annual Youth Outreach day.

Youth Outreach day is a morale building and recruiting event aimed at ensuring a close connection is kept between Westover and the greater community. Students from the Westover Job Corps, Chicopee Comprehensive High School and Springfield Central High School participated in the event.

“Every year we try to switch up the activities but the focus remains team building,” said the 439th Maintenance Squadron’s Tech. Sgt. David Murphy, one of the co-organizers for the event. “Teamwork, teambuilding, and communication are the three skills we try to relay.”

Other organizers for the event included the 439th Maintenance Squadron’s Master Sgt. Brooke Rose and Tech. Sgt. Zakijabbar Robinson.

The day began with a welcome briefing from the 439th Maintenance Group’s Lt. Col. Jose Delgado. The day’s activities included a three-man slingshot water balloon target competition, a memory game, a relay race of donning Explosive Ordinance Disposal gear and a tug of war competition.

“After the students are briefed their broken up into groups by different color wristbands so it’s not the same schools and friends together,” said Murphy.  “Students are forced to meet different people with each group participating in different events. At the end all the points are tallied and the group with the most points gets a trophy. We try to make it competitive.”

Both the Westover Fire Department and 439th EOD unit also participated in the event by providing static displays and demonstrations.

The EOD unit allowed students to maneuver their remote-controlled robot, used for explosive ordinance detonations, and try donning their bomb suit.

The Westover Fire Department brought out some of their gear including the Jaws of Life, protective fire suits and rescue air bags. Students were allowed to use the Jaw of Life to play a game of Jenga by using the tool to pick up rubber blocks.

Air Force and Army recruiters were also present to answer any questions students may have about joining the military. The Galaxy Council provided funding for lunch and the United Service Organization donated water and snacks.

Many of the participating students are in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program or the Job Corps at their schools and are familiar with the military, Murphy said.

Valery Franco, a senior at Springfield Central High School, believes that the day’s activities build a competitive spirit.

“We’re forced to intermingle with other students from other high schools which makes us work together as a team,” said Franco. “This way we’re all in it together cheering each other on.”

Youth Outreach day is not just beneficial for the participating students, it is good for the volunteers too.

“It’s not only great for the kids but it’s great for the morale of the volunteers because they want to make a positive impact and everyone benefits,” said Murphy. “There is a lot of positivity.”

Approximately 30 volunteers were on hand from units around base, including both 10 active duty members and traditional-reservists serving as team leaders cheering on their teams.

The 439th Maintenance Squadron’s Staff Sgt. Nathan Jette is in his third year volunteering as a team leader.

“I’m just happy to be a part of this,” said Jette. “I like to represent my unit and answer questions the kids may have. It really makes you proud to see kids stepping up and becoming leaders.”