Sgt. 1st Class Jamar Alford, a Soldier assigned to U.S. Army Japan, gives his daughter, Kayja, 2, a high five during the "Bowl With the Bunny" event April 17. Since April is National Autism Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Camp Zama Army Community Service got together with the bowling alley to provide information about both issues during the event. (Photo Credit: Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)
Sgt. 1st Class Jamar Alford, a Soldier assigned to U.S. Army Japan, gives his daughter, Kayja, 2, a high five during the "Bowl With the Bunny" event April 17. Since April is National Autism Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Camp Zama Army Community Service got together with the bowling alley to provide information about both issues during the event. (Photo Credit: Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)

Camp Zama's 'Bowl With the Bunny' event brings awareness to autism, child abuse

by Wendy Brown
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA (April 19, 2019) -- In between frames, the Bunny of the Camp Zama Bowling Center's "Bowl With the Bunny" handed out eggs with treats inside, visited with children and posed for photos during the event here April 17.

He also proved himself as a bowler, scoring a respectable 149 in the game he played throughout the two-hour event.

Organizers, however, didn't stop there. With April as National Autism Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Awareness Month, they designed the event so parents could bring their children to a fun occasion and get information about child abuse and autism, said Stan Austin, manager of the Camp Zama ACS Family Advocacy Program.

The whole idea was to support families, Austin said.

"We want to do anything we can to encourage people to get out with their children to events like this so they're doing fun things with their kids," Austin said. "It not only blows off steam for the kids, it's a stress relief for the parents and it helps bond them together."

About 30 people attended, and parents and older children could visit information tables as they bowled. The autism awareness portion coincided with many "Strike Out Autism" events in the United States during April, Austin said.

U.S. Army Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, who helped the Easter Bunny cut a cake, said autism and child abuse are important issues, and it is crucial people take the time to learn more about them.

"You absolutely have to have an understanding of what exactly child abuse is and that it still happens in the military and how to take care of it," Beeson said.

Also, although family members of people with autism often have an understanding of the disorder, those in the community at large should learn about it as well, Beeson said.

Sgt. 1st Class Jamar Alford, a U.S. Army Japan Soldier who attended with his family, said it was good to see members of the community get together for fun and to support one another.

"As long as we're here to support each other and let everyone know that we're a community and we're all together, I think that's great," Alford said. "Anytime you can bring awareness to issues that people feel they're not advocating enough, I think that's awesome."

Children said they enjoyed bowling with the Easter Bunny.

"I love it because I'm winning and I like the Easter Bunny," said Tristan Davis, 8. "The Easter Bunny is cute."

Austin said people who have questions about child abuse or autism can contact Camp Zama ACS for help at DSN (315) 263-4357 or 011-81-46-407-4357 from overseas for more information.

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