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Military child excels thanks to unique opportunities

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.--  Twelve-year-old Khamis Peoples participates in balance beam exercises during gymnastics class at the youth center here April 23. Khamis excels in school, sports and is involved in numerous community programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Heather R. Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Twelve-year-old Khamis Peoples participates in balance beam exercises during gymnastics class at the youth center here April 23. Khamis excels in school, sports and is involved in numerous community programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Heather R. Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- At 12 years old, she has already endured four permanent changes of station including one overseas, but that hasn't stopped her from excelling in the community or receiving high marks in school - in fact it has given her more opportunity.

Khamis Peoples isn't your average seventh-grader. As a daughter of not only one but two military parents, she hasn't known anything other than being a military child, and she wouldn't have it any other way. Moving four times has given her the opportunity to meet new people, experience a variety of cultures and familiarize herself with different climates. More than anything, however, she is proud of her parents.

"I am very proud to be a military kid," Khamis said. "My parents do a lot to keep America safe,"

With an attitude like that, it might be easy to think it hasn't been hard for her, but just because she isn't in the military herself doesn't mean she doesn't feel the strain sometimes. Both of her parents are Air Force lieutenant colonels stationed here and at times have had to be out of town for a mission at the same time.

"She understands and accepts the sometimes interesting circumstances of military life," said her mother, Lt. Col. Patricia Peoples, the 30th Space Wing Inspector General. "She also knows that we spend every available opportunity with our children."

Family and friends have made it easier when Khamis' parents have needed to be out of town. The programs at the youth center have kept her busy, and some of the programs she's involved in have given her something to do during their absence, said Khamis.

Even with the sometimes trying events, nothing has stopped Khamis from rising above and finding ways to shine. In school, she outclasses her peers by earning all A's and B's and regularly making the honor role. School, however, pales in comparison to all the clubs she is involved in.

Girl Scouts is just one of the many organizations that Khamis excels in. The young scout has already been awarded her bronze award and is now currently pursuing her silver award. As the youngest member of her Girl Scout troop, Khamis was voted in as the president by her peers last year.

"She readily assumes leadership roles and was nicknamed 'Condoleezza Rice' by her troop leader in Germany," said Colonel Peoples.

Vandenberg's youth center has several programs that have given Khamis opportunities to help out the community and receive support that is sometimes helpful to a military child. Smart Girls is one of those programs. The program is designed to help middle school-aged girls with health and lifestyle skills. The girls participate in volunteer work and also take trips to the beach. Leaders of the group emphasize the importance of learning to enjoy life and how to get through tough times.

Smart Girls is really helpful because it gives her a chance to talk about important adolescent issues with her friends in a safe environment, said Khamis.

Volunteer work is also very important to Khamis. She is involved in Torch club, which focuses on community service. Recently, Khamis and several other youth made posters about the importance of recycling to raise awareness around the base. She also serves as a counselor at Girl Scout camp, helping younger girls succeed.

Khamis not only excels in school and the community, but she also stands out in athletics. She is in her fourth year of gymnastics and although she does not compete, she enjoys it.

"I like participating in gymnastics because it keeps me fit for the soccer season," Khamis said.

During the fall, Khamis is involved in a soccer program run by the youth center. The games are played against other Vandenberg youth in similar age groups, giving Khamis an opportunity to bond with new friends.

As a military child, Khamis has not just stepped over the hurdles that life has thrown her way, she has flown over them. Khamis Peoples shines when faced with complexity, and although she is only 12 years old, she is able to show her diversity and ability to manage the every-changing dynamics of life in the military. It's easy to see she fits right in.

"She's watched us as well as the rest of the military community around her since she was born," said her mother. "It's rubbed off on her."