Posted: April 25, 2023
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®) welcomed ten students from across the United States to the inaugural Hidden Helpers Student Leadership Program (HHSLP) at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), April 14-19, 2023.
Hidden Helpers is an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that recognizes the children and young adults (up to age 18) who are actively involved in or impacted by the care needs of a wounded, ill, or injured service member.
MCEC established the scholarship-based HHSLP to sponsor ten high school-level Hidden Helpers’ attendance for the five-day program. The training teaches these young people to identify resources for help and build leadership knowledge and skills to prepare for life after high school. The subjects are serious, but they were addressed in a fun, caring environment with adult and peer support.
This program was made possible with the generous support of Wounded Warrior Project®.
“Congratulations to these outstanding young people on their selection to attend the inaugural Hidden Helpers Student Leadership Program,” said MCEC President and CEO Dr. Becky Porter. “The challenges faced by children in caregiving families are too often unknown or unrecognized. That can be tremendously isolating. MCEC is excited to offer this experience because it enables these amazing youth to benefit from peer connections and support that they need and deserve. It’s wonderful to see them explore opportunities in education and life as they grow into adulthood.”
The Hidden Helper students toured UTSA’s various departments and dorms, and learned about its majors, financial aid, and support for military families. Dr. Thomas Porter, professor at UTSA, held a two-day workshop, “Storytelling: Hidden Helpers’ Unseen Journey of Healing,” in which participants were encouraged to write their personal stories as an exercise to help process and understand their experiences and feelings. The students could share their stories with each other if they wished, which helped them see that they are truly not alone — there are others who can relate, and who can care.
The mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, proclaimed April 15th “Hidden Helpers Day.” Mrs. Juanita Sepulveda, former Marine and current member of the City of San Antonio Military Council, presented the proclamation and individual certificates to each student.
On April 18, the University of Texas at San Antonio honored HHSLP participants by presenting a commemorative brick to be embedded with others in the UTSA PASEO, the major walkway on campus.
The HHSLP is intended to become an annual leadership opportunity for high school students who are in a caregiving role for a wounded, injured, or ill parent from service in the military.
One student commented, “The [program] allowed me to make friendships that I hope will continue to blossom and strengthen as time progresses. I want to extend my gratitude to those outside our circle who ensured we could have this experience, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the executives at MCEC. I want to emulate the impact you and the program have made on my future.”
Students selected to attend the HHSLP were in grades 9-12; have military-connected affiliations to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force; and represented seven high schools from five states across the country:
“I wanted my son to have this trip just for himself,” said the parent of one attendee. “He spends so much time helping. He had a great time making friends and learning about himself.”
For media inquiries:
Please contact the MCEC Director of Marketing, Karen Kirk, at Karen.Kirk@MilitaryChild.org, for questions about this release.
About the Military Child Education Coalition:
MCEC® is a 501(c)(3) global nonprofit leadership, service delivery, and advocacy organization. MCEC supports all military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve education challenges associated with the military lifestyle. Learn more about the national advocacy efforts of MCEC at MilitaryChild.org and on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
About the Elizabeth Dole Foundation:
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured veterans. elizabethdolefoundation.org
About Wounded Warrior Project:
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.