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Children with Zukeran Elementary School play taiko drums during the 2024 Ages and Stages community event outside the Camp Foster Community Center on Okinawa, Japan, May 18, 2024. The Marine Corps Community Services New Parent Support branch hosted the event to showcase available parental resources, including parenting classes, briefings, and home visitations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp)

Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp

Camp Foster Ages and Stages Open House MCCS Okinawa

5 Jun 2024 | Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp Marine Corps Installations Pacific

The Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa New Parent Support Program hosted the 15th Annual Ages and Stages event at the Camp Foster Community Center on May 18.

The event aimed to empower new and expecting parents by providing valuable resources, support, and educational workshops. It enhanced parents' knowledge and skills about various stages of child development through presentations, interactive activities, and informational booths.

"Embracing the New Parent Support Program isn't just for expecting families; it's a proactive step towards ensuring every child's success,” said Joy Baumgartner, New Parent Support Program manager of MCCS Okinawa Behavioral Health Clinic. “Regardless of rank or experience, every family deserves the tools and resources to thrive. Waiting for challenges isn't an option. I want to empower the community to build strong, resilient families from day one.”

The event offered diverse activities that contribute to child development; carnival rides encourage physical activity and sensory exploration while the food truck experience promoted social skills; the fire truck’s presence highlighted the role of community helpers like firefighters, to foster trust in children. The taiko drummer performance also provided opportunities for cultural appreciation, while the obstacle course prompted problem-solving skills and physical fitness.

"I found the event incredibly informative and educational. It offered valuable products and advice for families,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Zachary Coe, an operations chief with G6, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and a native of Ohio. “As a parent of five children, with another on the way, I know that raising children comes with challenges and inevitable mistakes. It's about embracing the learning journey and becoming better parents.”

Coe explained how past events on Okinawa like this have served as a bonding experience for the Marine Corps parenting community. He said that gatherings like this brought together parents from diverse backgrounds and provided valuable insight into effective child-raising practices.

Coe said, “These interactions help parents improve their skills and strengthen their commitment to providing the best care for their children.”

The annual event plays a crucial role in supporting the military community by enhancing parenting skills among service members. Recognizing that a strong home life contributes to job effectiveness, the event provides valuable resources and workshops to empower parents in their roles. By equipping service members with enhanced parenting skills, the event strengthens family dynamics and ensures they can perform their military duties more effectively while serving their country.

"It's about being proactive rather than reactive,” said Baumgartner. “Instead of waiting for things to go wrong, reaching out for support when things are going well can prevent future issues. As Ezra Taft Benson, an American public official and religious leader, wisely said, ‘It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent.’’’

The New Parent Support Program empowers expecting individuals and families with children under six through professional education and support. The team provides free home visitations, classes, and group sessions to foster positive parent-child bonding and address the unique needs of military families. They aim to be the leading support system for military families, creating a nurturing community where every child thrives and every parent feels confident.

For more information regarding MCCS events and services, visit or your base’s MCCS office.