Military community hosts Winter Special Olympics

U.S. Air Force Kristina Hailey, 86th Dental Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of the instrument processing center, talks to participants during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The purpose of the Special Olympics events are to help build self-confidence and camaraderie in the children who participate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

U.S. Air Force Kristina Hailey, 86th Dental Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of the instrument processing center, talks to participants during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The purpose of the Special Olympics events are to help build self-confidence and camaraderie in the children who participate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Volunteers gather around a service dog during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The purpose of the KMC Special Olympics is to help build self-confidence for children with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Volunteers gather around a service dog during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The purpose of the KMC Special Olympics is to help build self-confidence for children with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Rahim Fuiava, 773rd Civil Support Team information system analyst, congratulates a participant during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Special Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The KMC Special Olympics occurs every spring and winter, and involves students from both German and American schools. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Rahim Fuiava, 773rd Civil Support Team information system analyst, congratulates a participant during the Kaiserslautern Military Community Winter Special Olympics on Vogelweh Special Military Complex, Germany, Dec. 1, 2017. The KMC Special Olympics occurs every spring and winter, and involves students from both German and American schools. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

VOGELWEH MILITARY COMPLEX, Germany -- Service member and civilian volunteers in the Kaiserslautern Military Community made strides to inspire and mentor children with special needs at the KMC Winter Special Olympics at the Vogelweh Military Complex, Dec. 1.

The group comes together every spring and winter to conduct the KMC Special Olympics. The events are intended to help build self-confidence and camaraderie in the children who participate, said Master Sgt. Naomi James, 86th Medical Squadron quality and management superintendent.

“It brings everybody together,” said James, who helped organize event. “It’s giving back to the community and the kids. It gives them time together as well as friendly competition between the schools. But it’s all about them.”

James added that she was pleased with the positive effects on the children’s emotional well-being, saying that seeing the participants happy makes her happy.

“I couldn’t stop beaming,” she said. “Everybody was able to make it. They’re whole, they’re having fun—it’s just overwhelming.

The winter events featured bowling and arts and crafts. Children who participate come from various schools in the local area-both American and German. The KMC Special Olympics uses a buddy system in which participants are paired with volunteers for the day. The volunteer accompanies the child and participates with the child in the events.

James added that not only are volunteers striving to help the children, but also making an effort to build bonds between Americans and locals.

“This gives us an opportunity to give back to them,” she said, referring to the German community. “To show our appreciation that we are here and we are together. We’re all people; it doesn’t matter what our background is, who we are, or where we come from.”

Tech. Sgt. Kristina Hailey, 86th Dental Squadron NCO in charge of the instrument processing center, served as the master of ceremonies for the KMC Winter Special Olympics. She expressed how happy she was to help with the event and hoped others would do the same in the future.

“They’re out there and they need our support,” she said. “I love to work with kids. They have so much energy and a useful spirit. They would just tell you how it is.”

Hailey also said she was impressed by the intelligence displayed by some of the children and was amazed by the optimism displayed by the participants.

“The kids have so much talent,” she said. “They enjoy having a new buddy and meeting new people. They have hobbies just like us. It’s just amazing—the creativity and imagination they have.”

Hailey encouraged KMC members to step up and volunteer for Special Olympics events, saying she would do it again if given the chance.