Center for Character, Culture gets creative

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The Center for Character and Culture is hosting free interactive activities beginning Nov. 4, 2016.

“These programs were designed by RAF Mildenhall Airmen to offer fun and engaging ways to reduce stress, foster (new and existing) relationships, strengthen interpersonal skills, and generally encourage positive physical, mental and social health,” said Genevieve Brock, 100th Air Refueling Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response victim advocate. “Each of these benefits is a protective factor in our community.”

Free and open to all base ID card holders is ‘Breathe, Sip, Paint,’ an instructor-led painting session. Participants are encouraged to sign up at the Bob Hope Community Center since attendance is limited to 12 people. The class is scheduled to be held in building 670 from 6 to 8 p.m., Nov. 4 and 18. The Nov. 4 class is full and the Nov. 18 class very nearly full. December dates will soon be advertised.

Instructors hope participants have their eyes opened to the benefits of art.

“Painting can be easily overlooked as something that helps to decompress, but art is very therapeutic, especially if you’re the one creating it,” said Tech. Sgt. Ceji Dorty, 488th Intelligence Squadron Materiel Management logistics support and class teacher. “I started painting and drawing at a very young age and I’m super-excited to be given the opportunity to help others explore and express their artistic side.”

Class leaders hope the sessions will spark an interest in painting for those who attend, then see that spark develop over a longer period.

“We want to give people an opportunity to relax and de-stress in a fun environment away from alcohol. We want to let individuals express themselves, enjoy an evening out and explore the benefits of both art and more holistic outlets,” said Julie Boggs, 100th Force Support Squadron Human Resource specialist. “RAF Mildenhall's Center for Character and Culture is unique in that it’s pro-active rather than re-active, and this is one way we’re striving to provide alternative outlets for the base populace. We plan on offering the 'Breathe, Sip, Paint' class twice a month for the next six months, so keep on the look-out for the next sign-up.”

In addition to painting, the class offers participants the opportunity to learn how to prepare healthy drinks.

“My role in the initiative is to provide restorative cocktails and educate the participants on the effects that different nutrients and foods have on our mental fortitude,” said Erica Zellner, civilian employee and integrative nutritionist. “Each class will have a different 'cocktail' and a different theme to go along with the drinks. In November we will be featuring ginger root, which in addition to its amazing taste and anti-inflammatory benefits, also improves memory, attention, and increases the brain's levels of dopamine and serotonin. My hope is that each participant leaves the class with a deeper understanding of how to build resiliency through their diet.”

For those interested in a more energetic activity, free professional Latin dance lessons are also being offered, Nov. 4 and 18, in the enlisted lounge in the RAF Mildenhall Galaxy Club. These classes are from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. A third lesson is being offered Dec. 2, 2016, in the Fellowship Hall in the RAF Mildenhall Chapel from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.

The instructors are keen to share their passion for dance.

“Our ‘Lively Latin!’ lessons are great for physical and mental fitness as dance is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise and challenges your memory, as you work to learn the steps and/or a routine,” said Amie Smith, 100th ARW Equal Opportunity administrative assistant. “It also strengthens social skills and relationships and increases mood and self-confidence. Dancing may be intimidating to some, but we’re learning in a fun, judgment-free environment, so sign up today and join us for fun evenings on the dance floor!”

Whether it’s a quiet time to reflect and think while painting a picture, or to release some built up tension while enjoying the upbeat music of Latin dance, there’s something for everyone.

For more information, contact the Center for Character and Culture on DSN 238-2468, or commercial at 01638 542468.