Pacific Teen Panel serves Okinawa community

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Pacific Teen Panel serves Okinawa community

by: Lauren Hall U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station Public Affairs | .
published: June 15, 2013

Torii Station, Okinawa – Two Kadena High School students, family members of Army personnel stationed on Okinawa, participated in this year's Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Pacific Region Pacific Teen Panel (PTP.)

The PTP, consisting of delegates from Okinawa, mainland Japan, Korea, Alaska, Hawaii and Kwajalein, is a program that enables teenagers to voice their concerns to Pacific Region Army leadership and the Army Teen Panel in order to help improve Army teen programs. It helps teens to develop leadership skills by providing them with relevant leadership opportunities.

To be eligible to serve as a delegate, students must be in grades 9-11, maintain a C-grade average and must demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly and to prepare a variety of reports.

"The process for getting selected as a delegate is much like a job interview. It's very competitive," said Natasha Zack, Torii Station School Liaison Officer. "The kids have to fill out an application, go through an interview and then be chosen by the program manager to be a delegate."

The Okinawa delegates, Stephen Leeds and George Christensen, along with the help of their friend and one of last year's delegates, Shannon Nolan, raised much-needed items for deployed Soldiers based in Okinawa and for the Stork's Nest on Camp Lester.

"The students were able to raise more than $2,000.00 worth of needed items for the Stork's Nest. Some of the items donated were preemie diapers, preemie clothing, baby blankets, baby wipes, DVDs and gift cards to the Exchange and commissary," said Zack. "They raised more than $500.00 worth of items to mail out to the deployed Soldiers including candy, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, baby wipes, DVDs and books."

The delegates set up drop boxes and met with several commanders and division chiefs to help spread the word about their project.

"We placed donation boxes at several locations on Torii Station including Havana's, Army Community Service and the library," said Leeds.

Leeds and Christensen chose to raise awareness and collect items for the Stork's Nest because it is in need of baby items, particularly preemie items.

The Stork's Nest consists of four cottages located on Camp Lester that provide a comfortable place for parents experiencing difficult pregnancies to stay, free of charge. Difficulties often include premature births, Caesarean births and other complications

"Once a month, the delegates from all of the Pacific Region arrange a conference call to discuss their community service projects and ideas for the Youth Leadership Forum," said Zack. "This year's forum was supposed to be held at Camp Zama, Japan this summer. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, it was cancelled."

However, the delegates will still be able to conduct their "issue forum" by conference call and select their top three concerns or issues affecting teen life in the Pacific Region. They will then elevate them to the IMCOM Regional Director for awareness and possible resolution.

"Examples of past issues raised include the limited selection of clothing meeting high school dress codes sold at the Exchange; transportation issues to help teens go to other installations for events such as football games; and the lack of summer employment opportunities for teenagers during their summer breaks," said Zack.

Zack said that many of the items received for the deployed Soldiers and the Stork's Nest were mailed from friends and family members in the U.S.