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$11.5 Million UToledo Program Sends Students Overseas to Serve U.S. Military Children

The University of Toledo is recruiting and training college students from across the country to provide quality child development and care at military bases around the world.

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded UToledo an $11.5 million grant to operate the Rocket Kids program for five years to help children of active-duty service members living overseas thrive and lead healthy lives.

Rocket Kids interns receive 15 UToledo credit hours while they participate in a fall, spring or summer term at one of the U.S. Army bases in Germany, Italy or Belgium.

The program pays for travel expenses and housing and provides a stipend of about $2,100 during the 12-week semester.

U.S. citizens enrolled at a U.S. college or university are eligible to apply on the UToledo website. All majors are welcome.

“We are proud to offer UToledo students and college students across the country the opportunity to participate in this unique international experience,” said Dr. Sammy Spann, vice president of student affairs and director of the Rocket Kids program. “Rocket Kids is a great way to travel to a fun and exciting location, build your resume and most importantly gain hands-on experience with children and youth.”

Rocket Kids is a recreational youth work program in the UToledo Judith Herb College of Education providing educational development and recreational programming to the U.S. Army’s children and youth in Europe. After the first year, Spann said the military is looking to increase to other branches of the military with bases in Asia and other parts of the world.

Marysa King, a first-year UToledo student studying middle childhood education, will be heading to Europe during summer semester in the first Rocket Kids cohort.

“This is such an exciting opportunity because not only do I get to do what I love and am most passionate about, which is working with children, but it is also an amazing way to give back to those serving our country and their families,” King said. “I also love to travel and see different cultures, so it is a great learning experience as well.”

Before heading overseas to be positioned in a child development center or summer camp program, Rocket Kids interns will receive more than 60 hours of training and certifications in CPR, First Aid and child development.

To participate in the program, students must obtain a passport.

“We have interviewed more than 130 students with the intent of retaining and sending out about 40 students this first year,” Spann said. “Our goal within the next 3 to 5 years will be to send over 1,200 Rockets a year to more than 36 locations around the world.”

Learn more about the program at the Rocket Kids website.


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