Ops Champs

Little Champs

The Little C.H.A.M.P.S ®

Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel

The CHAMPS Project is a public health initiative to donate copies of the empowering book The Little Champs (2012, Fink, Fink, Blackwell) to children of the military around the globe. The CHAMPS Project will also perform interactive, musical events at military installations and schools.

In addition to celebrating our Champs and validating their military-connected challenges, our goal is to build a bridge of understanding between our Champs and their civilian classmates and neighbors. The Little CHAMPS delivers education. Education raises awareness. Awareness fosters gratitude. Gratitude builds understanding – and promotes action.

FACTS: More than 60% of our Champs’ families live in over 4,000 communities nationwide (Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment, 2011, p. 1). Research shows that “[t]oo many of our military children in public schools feel like their classmates and teachers do not understand what they are going through” (Ibid, p. 13).

We are here to change that sentiment.

We will build the bridge of understanding: child by child; classroom by classroom; school by school; community by community; state by state.

Ops Champs Creators

JENNIFER FINK (middle)

Jen studies Public Health and Military Studies at the University of Maryland; and is passionate about assisting wounded Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. She has interned for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces and for Operation Homefront. Jen received The President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Red Cross Youth Volunteer of the Year Award at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She motivates college students to give back to military families through her nonprofit Operation CHAMPS (OperationChamps.org).

DEBBIE FINK, MA (left)

Debbie is an author, educator, and performer who has written numerous books and scripts. Her books, workshops, and performances reach readers and audiences globally. Debbie has had the honor of touring overseas with the USO for her project Operation Thanksgiving Eagle / OTE (OperationThanksgivingEagle.com), thanking Champs for the daily sacrifices they make on behalf of our freedom. She also runs the Mom of Many Hats global health initiative (MomOfManyHats.com), helping families cope with a cancer diagnosis.
To see photos from the USO / OTE tour, visit: http://operationthanksgivingeagle.shutterfly.com

WALTER BLACKWELL (right)

Walter is a U.S. Navy Veteran and former President/CEO of the National Veterans Business Development Corporation (TVC). Career highlights include private industry, international business and nonprofit arenas. A graduate of Washington University, he has authored and illustrated children’s books and one-man plays, and currently is launching a personal cloud platform start-up.

Endorsements of The Little Champs:

Little Champs

"A heartwarming, spot-on story, ‘The Little Champs’ brings to life true American heroes – our military children. As a teacher and parent there isn't a lot of authentic literature written about military children I connected with each character and saw traits that my own students possess. The book is a true testament to the strength and challenges our Champs face on a daily basis. Jennifer and Debbie Fink bring alive the courage, flexibility, and resourcefulness of military children. The story teaches and promotes patriotism, compassion, and understanding. After reading this book, everyone – Champs, teachers, parents, and civilians – will have a greater appreciation and respect for the courageous 1.9 million military children that live in America and around our world."

Angela Wilson, 2012 DoDEA Teacher of the Year (DoDEA: the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity), Vicenza, Italy

“Simple yet profound, honest yet affirming, ‘The Little Champs’ speaks to military children and civilian youth alike in this hopeful children’s book. Challenges are normalized and children’s strengths are celebrated in this poignant book that will comfort and empower military youth as they navigate geographic moves and related military-life experiences.”

Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D., Psychologist, Author of My Story: Blogs by Four Military Teens and Finding My Way: A Teen’s Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma

“I found the book ‘The Little CHAMPs’ to be incredibly relevant, addressing the common, recurrent issues faced by children of the military. Its five CHAMPS so cleverly become real as they are empowered to come up with coping strategies that have relevance for children and for anyone who has ever dealt with any loss. As a civilian psychiatrist, I also appreciated the explanations of military lingo; not only does it educate civilians, it conveys a sense of the uniqueness of CHAMPS; they even have a special way of communicating. This is clearly an enjoyable, entertaining, and touching book that will be therapeutic for children and their parents.”

Molly Strauss, MD FAPA, Psychiatrist

“Separation anxiety is the first and most profound of all of the fears that we face in life. Leaving, being left, entering new and unpredictable situations…these are the challenges that we encounter over and over again. But military kids face more separations, from parents, extended families, and communities, and at earlier ages, than most. How do they do it? How can we help them navigate through these rough waters? “In the book ‘The Little CHAMPs,’ Debbie and Jen Fink sensitively explore the topic through the eyes of five energetic, creative sons and daughters of military personnel. The children form their own little ‘troop’ where they display loyalty and commitment to one another. But they are truly tested when they must part. The authors present ways for these kids to acknowledge and express their sadness and anxieties, reach deep within to learn about their own individual strengths that will help them through this journey and beyond, and share these insights with each other.

“What emerges is an inspiring and empowering tale that is enjoyable to read. But on another level, embedded in the story, is a deeply sophisticated understanding of the psychological distress inherent in the loss of normalcy. To this end, the authors begin the book with A Note to Adults who will be reading the story to children. Explanations about the stages of loss, and guidance about sensitively engaging, validating, and respecting the feelings of the young reader are offered. And lastly, information is given on how the civilian reader can also become empowered to make a difference in the lives of the CHAMPs. That is the ultimate gift of the book…the message that we all can actively take steps to improve both our own and someone else’s life.”

Deborah R. Pollack, MD, Psychiatrist

"As an educator and child and adolescent therapist, reading ‘The Little Champs’ storybook for Child Heroes and other friends of our Nation, has helped give me the words through storytelling as I assist in the healing of children left behind by parents called to duty while serving our country. I am grateful – and moved – by its content, insight, understanding, and empathy brought forth to the child reader in ‘The Little Champs.’ The voice of these children is clearly portrayed through each colorful illustration and engaging words of enlightenment that the book and song communicate.

“Long overdue, now children who – in an instant and without a say – have watched their parents deploy for duty, will have their feelings of abandonment, loss, and challenge both validated and understood. Through story and song, ‘The Little Champs’ communicates a level of deep compassion, giving children a psychology of healing through words, wisdom, and song. Our little heroes of America finally have a voice. I recommend ‘The Little Champs’ wholeheartedly for both military-connected and civilian children of all ages, as well as for their parents and educators. The story our youngest, silent heroes have to tell has finally been put to words in this gem of a book.”

Linda Resmini Handy, Ph.D., LPC, Director of Counseling, Woods Academy

“The consummate educator, Debbie Fink, along with her daughter, Jennifer, and illustrator Walter Blackwell, have managed to convey the very essence of the military family in ‘The Little CHAMPS.’ The military is more a way of life than merely an occupation; it creates an immediate kinship, resulting in a ‘military family.’ However, there are unique challenges to military life, and this book provides insight and addresses some of those challenges. The authors have successfully infused fun into educating when producing this excellent book. The illustrations add immensely to the visual enjoyment.

“Without giving too much away, I was particularly impressed with the evolution and accomplishment of a solution reached in this book to a major challenge of military life experienced by children. It will undoubtedly lead to ‘Little Champs’ throughout military families following this same path. One should note, there is a weight allowance on household goods when a military family moves, and Champs around the world could end up having quite a collection stimulated by this book!”

Bonnie Callahan, Air Force Association, National Director Emeritus

“'The Little Champs’ is a heartwarming story that deals with the reality of a military lifestyle; saying goodbye. With characters that represent every branch of service this book will appeal to all the ‘little champs’ out there who will move on average 8 times in their childhood years. It’s a fun and positive read and one that will be readily embraced by military kids and parents alike!”

Patty Barron, Director, AUSA Family Programs (AUSA – Association of the United States Army)

Classroom extensions for The Little CHAMPS

Download - Student Activity Packet

THE POWER OF MUSIC

Watch and listen to “The Little CHAMPS” YouTube music video.
Learn to sing The Little CHAMPS’ Song.

Little CHAMPS Lyrics


CHORUS 1

C-H-A-M-P-S Champs that is who we are,
We move around the world, bonded both near and far.
Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, Army, and Navy
We Champs are kids like you we hope you see.

VERSE 1

Our parents fight to protect the USA,
So with liberty and justice we will stay
Military life moves us where we’re told,
So we move and make new friends, but keep the old.

CHORUS 2

This land is your land, this land is my land*
C-H-A-M-P-S Champs that is who we are,
From California, to the New York Island
We move around the world, bonded both near and far.
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, Army, and Navy
This land was made for you and me.
We Champs are kids like you we hope you see.

VERSE 2

Goodbyes are not forever, goodbyes are not the end,
They simply mean we’ll miss you, until we meet again!*
We’re proud to say thanks to the service of your dad or mom,
Your family helps keep America safe and strong.

CHORUS 3

This land is your land, this land is my land
C-H-A-M-P-S Champs that is who you are,
From California, to the New York Island
You move around the world, bonded both near and far.
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, Army, and Navy
This land was made for you and me.
You Champs are kids like us – we know and see.
La la la la la la . . .
GO CHAMPS!

*”This Land is Your Land” was written by Woody Guthrie in 1940.
* These first two lines were written by an unknown author.
The Classroom Extension above was prepared by Debbie Fink, MA, Harmony Hearth, LLC

Download - Little CHAMPS Music

Power of Music: 12 Questions for Music Appreciation

  1. What instruments were played in the recording?  (Hint:  There are six.)
  2. What part is the melody?  
  3. What part is the harmony (also called counterpoint)?
  4. How do you feel listening to the recording?  
  5. Who is singing Verse One (and Chorus 1 & 2)?  Champs or civilian children?   
  6. Who is singing Verse Two (and Chorus 3)?  Champs or civilian children?  
  7. How do you feel singing the song?
  8. Why do you think the songwriter (lyricist) changed the pronouns (we/you; us/your) in the verses and choruses?
  9. How does the simple change of a few pronouns create a conversation between Champs and civilians?
  10. How does this musical conversation help build the bridge of understanding between Champs and  civilians?
  11. Can we write a new verse for this song?
  12. BONUS QUESTION: What part of the song’s recording is sung a capella (without instruments)?

 

Operation CHAMPS Wiki

PTAs PLAY A PART IN OUR NATION’S CHAMPaign: Easy and Quick Ideas ESTABLISH a CHAMPS’ FAMILIES OUTREACH COMMITTEE through your PTA It is suggested to have two committee co-chairs: a military-connected parent (past or present) and a civilian. Set up a Social Buddy System (SBS) for Champs’ caregivers (parents and others filling this role). This committee’s responsibilities are to identify, meet, greet, assist, and celebrate Champs’ families through simple acts of kindness, community, and gratitude: e.g., in/formal coordination of: * childcare * carpools * play dates * meals * invitations to social gatherings Invite a Champ parent to speak to your parent and/or student body (especially on relevant national holidays). Organize “Farewell” help when Champs’ families are picking up and packing up to move on. ORGANIZE A CHAMPaign FUNDRAISER: * Choose one of the 501(c)3 military-connected supporters of CHAMPs; OR * Count the number of Champs attending your school: raise funds to purchase each Champ a book; as well as classroom copies for each teacher, the media center/library, guidance counselor, and music educator. * Set your fundraising goal (books are $ 12 each – to buy and ship). * Decide how best to raise the funds (e.g., bake sales, talent shows, etc.) * Raise the funds. * Deliver the funds with a check to the selected organization, earmarked for The Little CHAMPS’ Public Health Initiative – the selected organization will then get the books out to their Champs on your PTA’s behalf; OR *Order your books directly from this website to distribute throughout your school. PARTNER WITH MILITARY-CONNECTED ORGANIZATIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY: Identify community-wide efforts, projects, events, and what you can do to support their noble work serving military families. Set up school-wide Community Service projects that “feed into” these community-wide efforts. Let us ‘do what we can, with what we have, where we are’ (President Theodore Roosevelt) PTA’s PLAY A PART in The Little Champs’ Public Health Initiative - From the Virtual Desk of Debbie Fink, M.A. PTAs PLAY A PART
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