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Gunnery Sgt. Jason E. Vinson, a food services manager at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enjoys interacting with a young Japanese boy recently as another looks on and has a hearty laugh at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city. The children at this school and 15 other preschools in the area, get at least two opportunities each month to interact with servicemembers who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program.
Gunnery Sgt. Jason E. Vinson, a food services manager at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enjoys interacting with a young Japanese boy recently as another looks on and has a hearty laugh at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city. The children at this school and 15 other preschools in the area, get at least two opportunities each month to interact with servicemembers who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program. (Courtesy of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station)
Gunnery Sgt. Jason E. Vinson, a food services manager at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enjoys interacting with a young Japanese boy recently as another looks on and has a hearty laugh at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city. The children at this school and 15 other preschools in the area, get at least two opportunities each month to interact with servicemembers who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program.
Gunnery Sgt. Jason E. Vinson, a food services manager at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enjoys interacting with a young Japanese boy recently as another looks on and has a hearty laugh at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city. The children at this school and 15 other preschools in the area, get at least two opportunities each month to interact with servicemembers who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program. (Courtesy of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station)
These young children at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city adore the attention they receive when visited by servicemembers from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program.
These young children at Mangyoji Hoikuen Preschool in Iwakuni city adore the attention they receive when visited by servicemembers from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station who participate in the Adopt a Preschool Program. (Courtesy of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station)

Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station’s command chaplain thought it would be nice for the base to have an exchange program between Marines and local Japanese schools.

But he never thought it would receive such enthusiasm.

“I expected that maybe one or two high schools or elementary schools would like the idea,” Cmdr. Donald Fix said Friday.

But 16 area preschools expressed interest in having Marines visit their school — in what’s been deemed the Adopt a Preschool Program.

“I really expected that it would be the older students in elementary grades and high school,” he said.

In May, the chaplain’s administrative assistant Noriko Yamada and various command representatives visited the preschools to discuss program ideas. Fix said most preschools simply want the servicemembers to come twice a month and “interact with the children, maybe teach them a little English and play some games.”

“One or two of the preschools have some maintenance needs in addition to a desire for the servicemembers to visit the youngsters,” Fix said.

The 16 preschools are “primarily for children who have parents that work,” said Iwakuni’s Protestant Chaplain (Lt.) Stephen Coates.

The Chaplain’s Office divided the preschools into two groups of eight.

Willing commands, such as Marine Aircraft Group 12 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212, “adopt” one of eight preschools. Departments within the Iwakuni Air Station Command, such as the Facilities Division or the Single Marine Program, adopt one each from the second set of eight preschools, Fix said.

Aside from simply having fun with the kids, Fix said Friday that another major benefit from the program is “getting our Marines out there in the community and using their natural skills. Working with the children also helps their self-esteem as young adults because they realize that are doing something positive.”

Each department or command that adopts one of the 16 preschools is making a one-year commitment to that school’s students and staff.

“It’s also really effective community outreach, and lets the people in Iwakuni know that we realize we’re also part of the community,” Fix said. “It helps to express our good will as we interact with the schools this way.”

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