Preschool Playgroup parent leaders recognized

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- For years, Incirlik's Preschool Playgroup has offered parents a chance to come together, share experiences and stimulate the development of the cognitive, problem solving and social skills of their preschoolers. Tuesday, the base recognized three of the parent leaders who volunteer to make the program possible.

Rachael Hollingsworth, Carly Jones and Teresa Svoboda were presented certificates of appreciation and gift certificates from Col. "Tip" Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander, for their dedication to the playgroup.

"November is the month of the military child and what better way to end the month than to recognize some of the folks who volunteer their time for our children," said Colonel Stinnette. "I'm always amazed at the energy it takes to do what they do and as a community, we appreciate it."

The playgroup is sponsored by the Family Advocacy Program and is attended by more than 30 families per week, according to Tracy Snider, 39th Medical Group family advocacy outreach manager. But, without the help of the parent leaders, the playgroup would not exist.

"This program only happens because the parents run it," said Ms. Snider. "These ladies provide much of the labor, dramatic story reading and singing and model positive parenting for others who attend."

"Somebody has to volunteer or this program wouldn't exist," said Mrs. Svoboda. "I need this program for myself and for my children."

The group is structured play where parents and caregivers rotate through stations with their children. A music station develops language skills; story time develops communication and focuses on language; a fine motor skills station leads to self-help skills and a gross motor skills station develops large muscle groups and physical conditioning.

"It's important to start social interaction early," said Mrs. Jones. "The kids have lots of fun and meet other kids."

Programs like the Preschool Playgroup are especially important at a base like Incirlik.

"Parents and caregivers bring their children for interaction with others, but parents also receive the benefits of interacting with other adults, sharing ideas, making friends and reducing the possibility of feelings of isolation in this remote location," said Ms. Snider.

"We have a place to bring our children when it's hot in the summer and cold in the winter," said Mrs. Hollingsworth. "It's important to have a place where parents and children can come together."

The Preschool Playgroup is for infants through children age 4. The group meets Tuesdays from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Youth Center gym. Since the playgroup has no staff, parents and caregivers are expected to help set up and clean up. For more information, contact Ms. Snider at 676-6452.