FAP Pop in and Plant 1 wb.jpg

FAP Pop in and Plant 2 wb.jpgThe Fort Drum Family Advocacy Program’s Pop In and Plant event March 24 at the Enrichment Center offered a fun evening of planting and painting activities for families. This was the kick-off event for the Soldier and Family Readiness Division’s Mountain Wellness Month in April, which covers five awareness campaigns with a packed events calendar for the entire Fort Drum community. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Mountain Wellness Month kicks off at Fort Drum with fun Pop in and Plant event for whole family

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 28, 2023) – The Soldier and Family Readiness Division (SFRD) staff has scheduled so many activities for Mountain Wellness Month in April that they launched the annual campaign a week early.

The Family Advocacy Program’s free Pop in and Plant event March 24 at the Enrichment Center was the first on the Mountain Wellness Month calendar, offering a mix of herb gardening and painting for the entire family.

“It’s something we thought would be fun for families to come out and do together,” said Nicole Wetzel, FAP educator. “They can pick their favorite herb seeds to plant, and then they can paint their own family tree.”

Children alMountain Wellness Month graphic wb.jpgso could add their handprints to a large canvas that will be displayed in Clark Hall for Child Abuse Prevention Month. More than 20 families – nearly 70 community members – registered for the “Pop in” event, which has proven to be one of the more popular activities on the FAP calendar.

“This is all about what we can do to help families spend quality time together, enriching that bond and also giving them something meaningful to take home too,” Wetzel said. “With the seed planting and family tree, the focus is on families. But then they can be part of something bigger with the handprint project, which is more about the community.”

There will be more activities like this – fun, educational, family- and community-oriented – in the month ahead, and it took a collaborative effort among several installation agencies and programs to assemble the event calendar.

“We started planning for this last September, and it really was a team effort all along,” said Amanda Mason, Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) manager. “Part of the reason there is so much on our calendar this time is we partnered with Outdoor Recreation and the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) on several events.”

On April 1, Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and Outdoor Recreation will host a skeet shooting competition, which will include a kids-friendly event with foam projectiles. They also will host the “Day at Rosamond Gifford Zoo” on April 15 in Syracuse.

“We will have representatives from FAP there to organize a scavenger hunt for families,” Mason said. “We also have SHARP (Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention) and teaming up with BOSS for Open Mic Night with BOSS on April 7 and Mindfulness Yoga (April 8 and 22).”

Mason said that Mountain Wellness Month aims at eliminating sexual assault, sexual harassment, child abuse, and substance dependency, while providing education and building resiliency with regards to autism awareness and financial literacy.

“When SFRD was established in 2020, we had five programs, each with its own awareness month campaign,” she said. “We created Mountain Wellness Month so we could come together and plan events that focused on each program’s prevention area.”

She said combining campaign efforts made sense because the programs often deal with issues that overlap one another, but the overall goal is in achieving readiness.

“We know that readiness is one of the division commander’s top priorities, so on all of the event flyers for Mountain Wellness Month you will see a different readiness logo on the bottom,” Mason said.

Some events support family readiness, mission readiness and community readiness, while others concentrate on training, relationship, and financial readiness.

The Exceptional Family Member Program invites the community to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, from 4 to 6 p.m. April 3 at the Enrichment Center, with music, story time, art, and fun sensory activities. On April 5, the Financial Readiness Program will conduct a leaders’ study session on the principles of personal finances and how to create a unit atmosphere of financial wellness. Then, in support of Financial Literacy Month, a gameshow-style Knowledge Bowl is scheduled April 26 for Soldiers to win prizes.

Mason said that ASAP has not had an Alcohol Awareness Month Victim Impact Panel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is glad to see its return. The event, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. April 19 at the Command Sgt. Maj. Southern “Buddy” Hewitt Noncommissioned Officer Academy, provides an opportunity for community members to hear personal stories from victims impacted by impaired drivers.

This event is open to all community members 15 and older. Pre-registration is required by calling (315) 772-2371 or 771-6706.

A few other popular events are returning, such as the Family Car Show and Sensory-Friendly Movie, April 11 at the USO, and Baby Palooza, April 27 at the Post Exchange. New additions include a Mountain Wellness Month 5K run on April 6 and a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month proclamation signing April 11 during the garrison town hall.

“There’s just so many events, and a lot going on throughout the whole month,” Mason said. “I think what’s most important will be the community involvement that we really want to see and how we can support the community with these events.”

“We like hosting fun events, but there’s always that educational piece that people sometimes aren’t aware they are getting,” she added. “People come for the fun, but they leave having learned something, whether it’s stress management techniques, communication skills or becoming more aware of a particular issue.”

Community members can find the Mountain Wellness Month activities on the Fort Drum website’s event flyers page at home.army.mil/drum/index.php/about/event-flyers and by following www.facebook.com/FortDrumSFRD/.