Release # 054-09
By Staff Sgt. Matthew O. Holly
Marines and Sailors assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG) spent the day playing with children from the Alia School for Early Intervention in Bahrain March, 24.
Approximately 15 Marines and Sailors from USS New Orleans (LPD 18) spent time socializing with special needs children, gardening and playing with children during gym class.
Staff Sgt. John J. Ankney, data chief for Battalion Landing Team 1/1 assigned to the 13th MEU, said that the selfless work being done at the school is very uplifting.
“I was really impressed with the program’s success in integrating the children with special needs into the primary education gym classes,” said Staff Sgt. John J. Ankney. “The teachers have an amazing talent connecting with the children.”
The center was set up in 2004 by the Bahrain Society for Children with Behavior and Communication Disorders and helps students with communication, social, emotional and physical development problems.
“I wanted to volunteer so I could give back,” said Ankney, a Mission Creek, Idaho native, explaining his reasons for volunteering. “More importantly, I wanted to make a difference.”
The Marines and Sailors also helped plant flowers with the children.
“It was nice to have the opportunity to sit down and garden with the kids,” said Hospital Corpsmen 3rd Class Eli Y. Hernandez, assigned to the 13th MEU’s Battalion Landing Team. “It gave us a chance to connect in a one-on-one environment. Spending time with these children was the bright point of my day!"
The 13th MEU is embarked aboard Boxer USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Comstock (LSD 45) and USS New Orleans (LPD 18) ships deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations.