Take Our Kids to Work Day puts military careers in perspective

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Article / November 20, 2015 / Project number: 15-0189

Ottawa, Ontario — Sit in the cockpit of a CF-188 Hornet, operate a Multi-Purpose Engineering Vehicle, feel the considerable weight of a military police battering ram, or put out a simulated fire. Those are some of the many activities in which youth participated at this year’s Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) edition of Take Our Kids to Work Day in the National Capital Region.

Take Our Kids to Work Day, which began in 1994, is an initiative of The Learning Partnership, a Toronto-based charitable organization that fosters connections between youth and employers. More than 250,000 youth in Grade 9/Secondaire 3 or of equivalent age take part in events across the country each November. The Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) hosted the event at Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre on November 4, 2015.

To get an up-close look at both the people and equipment that make up daily work life  in Canada’s military, Ottawa-based DND employees and CAF members brought their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews or family friends to Connaught.

Chloé Statham said she was especially interested in learning more about military aviation. Her father, Major Brian Statham, works as a liaison between the CAF and the Canadian Space Agency. Maj Statham said Take Our Kids to Work Day is a time for kids like Chloé to see the wide range of career options available in the CAF.

I think it opens their minds to what they could do in the future. When Chloé is sitting in school it’s not really clear why I’m doing this. So it gives you an idea of things you can aim for, or kind of broadens the approach to the future.

Private Peter Johannesen, a reservist with Ottawa-based 28 Field Ambulance, was on hand to show off a Light Support Vehicle Wheeled ambulance and a selection of other medical equipment used in the field.

It’s great to let people see what we do and talk about it,” he said. “Especially people of that Grade 9 age; they’re starting to think about what career they want to get into. It’s good for us to show them the military side. And if people are interested in health care generally, this is one element of health care outside of the civilian world they can see.

Corporal Eric Stoate, Assistant Range Warden at Connaught and a reservist with 33 Combat Engineer Regiment, supervised an obstacle course that gave the youth the chance to experience some of the physical challenges of military service, albeit greatly scaled down.

Careful,” he warned one participant. “Make sure your feet land before your face does.

Speaking of physical challenges, Alyssa Fong tried an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Suit on for size and spent about five minutes walking around (with an adult helping to hold her up, of course) while bearing its 80 pound weight.

I couldn’t breathe that much,” she said. “It was kind of hard. It was heavy.

Her father Kevin, who works in procurement at DND, said the day was an ideal opportunity to give Alyssa a clearer picture of what her dad does on the job.

It’s just something different, to come out here and not be in the office environment. She can actually see some of the things dad gets to buy.

Chris Salisbury, part of the DND team responsible for counter-explosive threat equipment, said the EOD suit, as well as the selection of remote-controlled bomb disposal robots on display, was proving very popular for the second year in a row.

Last year we only had three guys here and this year we have five because last year we got overwhelmed. This is probably the biggest public event we do,” he said.

We encourage hands-on with everything we do so they get to look at the suits, play with the robots. Everybody sees the EOD suit. You put it on and you’re walking with 80 pounds on down this little course, which is about five minutes, although our typical EOD activity is much longer than that, so it helps to put it all into perspective.

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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