– Sailors from guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) visited special needs children with at the Regional Institute for Active Learning (RIA) Center during a port visit to Bahrain, Nov 28.
The Sailors split into two groups - some taught children common English words, while others played games, including soccer and basketball, on the playground.
“We’re playing with the kids, tutoring them in English and providing them with some toys,” said Chaplain (Lt.) David Carlson. “We are very privileged to get to spend time with these kids and continue to build community relations.”
Lake Champlain Sailors were surprised at how proficient the children were at English and how receptive they were to their visit.
“I was in the classroom with 3- to 4-year-olds,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Sean Drohan. ““The kids were very bright. We practiced our ABCs, played with toys, and sang some classic children’s songs. It felt great.”
The U.S. Navy has has spent a lot of time at the school over the years, with volunteers from Naval Support Activity, Bahrain visiting weekly. Children and staff are always excited when Sailors from a ship visit.
“We’re very grateful that the Navy has come here,” said Aneena Mathews Punnen, a volunteer at RIA. “Some of the children are underprivileged, so it means a lot to us that the U.S. Navy keeps coming back and cares so much.”
The RIA specializes in children with many types of disabilities, including spina bifida, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and emotional disorders.
Lake Champlain is currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.