by Trevor Romain, founder of the Trevor Romain Foundation
Hello from Germany. I just arrived at Ramstein Air Base from the beautiful town of Garmisch, where I spoke at a conference sponsored by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I would like to thank the Boys and Girls Clubs for all the work they do with our military children on bases all around the world.
I am proud to give you all some really exciting news. The USO, in partnership with our company, The Trevor Romain Company, is proud to announce the release of a brand new animated DVD that is designed to help school-age children with deployment. This project began about three years ago after I had just completed several tours with the USO, doing stand-up comedy for the school-age children living on bases overseas. After visiting with these kids, it became very apparent that a resource was need to help them with deployment. We approached the USO and asked them to help us produce an animated movie using the same characters from the series that airs on PBS stations and in schools all across the country. They liked the idea, and the project was born.
Let me tell you a little bit about the show. It is titled, “With You All the Way.” It deals with all stages of deployment; from pre-deployment, deployment, and re-integration. We teach the same main characters, Jack and Skye, how to help their buddies, Darrell, Brittany, and Pablo, deal with their families’ particular stage of deployment. Along the way, I interact with these animated characters and guide them through the story.
I love Jack and Skye. They have lived in my head for quite some time and I am so glad they got a chance to star in their own series. They are both great kids, but very quirky in their own right. Like all best friends, they really like to poke fun at each other.
On a side note, kids love to ask me why I named the characters Jack and Skye. Several years ago, my dad died. He was a really great guy and I wanted to remember him throughout the series because he would have loved it. His name was Jack and he is now in the sky, hence the names.
As I mentioned earlier, Jack and Skye have been running around in my head for many years. They drive me nuts. Jack is very gentle and has a big heart. However, he is a bit of a klutz and loves to crack jokes, most of which are not very funny. Skye is a smart, confident, and witty girl, who can have a pretty sarcastic tongue sometimes. Together they make a great team.
Their friends in this episode are Darrell, Pablo, and Brittany; all of whom are experiencing stress because of a family member’s deployment.
Darrell is a very nice kid but he can be quite shy. His older brother is about to be deployed, and Darrell really looks up to him. Darrell is worried that something bad might happen. He is scared, nervous, and down in the dumps.
Brittany is one of the ‘popular’ girls. She sometimes has trouble letting people know who the real Brittany is. She is very good at masking her true emotions. In this instance, her dad has recently returned from a 12-month deployment. Her dad is being very quiet, a bit standoffish, and not having much to do with Brittany. She is pretending that his actions don’t bother her, but in truth, she is really hurting.
Pablo is a fun kid. He generally likes attention and sometimes talks a bit much. His mom is deployed overseas for the second time. His dad is being very strict at home and he is feeling like his mom doesn’t care about him. Pablo is very frustrated by this and takes his frustrations out on other people.
In the DVD, “With You All the Way,” I send the characters on a field trip to a history museum. At the museum, Jack and Skye learn lots of great pointers from some legendary military leaders about deployment. They then share everything they learn with their friends, and like all of our shows, there will be lots of laughing along the way.
Someone once asked me, “Trevor, why do kids relate so well to your characters?” Well, it is simple, really. First of all, they are all funny and have good senses of humor. However, kids easily relate to these characters because the characters share their same issues and problems. Kids know that they are not alone with some of the stresses they are facing. We try to never shy away from being real and telling the story from a child’s perspective.
I can’t wait until the movie is released. We just showed it to a small group of youth professionals in Europe and we got some great feedback. In fact, I am with one of those youth professionals now! Dorothy Choate, Chief of Family Members Programs at Ramstein Air Force Base, has been a really good friend and a great supporter of ours for years. She has also been instrumental in helping us develop materials for military children. After viewing the movie, Dorothy said, “This is exactly the type of resource we need. It is on target and addresses not only the real feelings and behaviors that our military youth face, but it also addresses the complexity of the distinct and different phases of deployments.”
To wrap up this blog, let me say how honored I am to have worked with the USO on this project. I was born in South Africa, but now I am a proud American. As an American, it is a really great feeling for me to be able to help our military kids. I myself served in South Africa, and I know how it feels to be deployed and away from your family. I can tell you from several years of personal experience working with the USO and DoDEA, these kids need a little extra support. The strain of multiple deployments really takes its toll on the whole family. If this DVD can give these kids just a little support, some hope and inspiration, and validation of what they are feeling, it will make me extremely happy and proud.
Trevor Romain is an award-winning author and illustrator of a series of self-help books for children, Trevor is a much sought-after motivational speaker. He hosts the Trevor Romain animated DVD series with a cast of animated friends using humorous adventures based on his books to teach real life lessons for kids. The DVD “With You All the Way” will soon be available online and at various USO centers. The deployment kits that include the DVD will soon be available from the Trevor Romain Foundation as well. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Trever Romain and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.