Airmen connect with Tucson youth

  • Published
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Airmen collaborated with the University of Arizona for the Arizona Youth Impact Program, a free two week long program for Tucson area middle school aged boys to enrich them with STEM activities, military discipline and football at DM and the college campus, June 12-23, 2023.

“Boys from all different backgrounds attend the program,” said Syndric Steptoe, University of Arizona football team senior director of player and community relations. “They are able to learn from one another and grow together.”

Around 100 boys participated in the program led by University of Arizona staff, football team players and 20 Airmen from DM.

At DM, attendees toured the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, watched a military working dog demonstration, inspected explosive ordnance disposal equipment and looked inside the aircraft flown at the base.

Airmen served as coaches and counselors during the program and were alongside their team for all daily activities and led them in military themed physical training.

“We provided discipline and structure for the boys as well as being mentors for them,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ahmad Long, 355th Wing command chief executive assistant. “We kept them accountable and helped them learn and accomplish their goals everyday.”

This was the third year of the program and their main science, technology, engineering and mathematics project was recreating the DM flightline. They learned basic electrical skills for lights and motors, how to scale down buildings and to work as a team.

In addition to the STEM project participants were taught how to budget their money and save for their future.

University of Arizona football players met with the participants and led the football portion of the camp with daily drills and advice.

“The Youth Impact Program exposes participants to what it’s like to be a college student athlete or an Airman,” said Steptoe. “If they are never exposed to it, they may not know it is an option.”

With support from the local community and the University of Arizona, Airmen were able to connect with Tucson youth throughout the program by being mentors and educating them on what the Air Force does to keep them and their families safe.