Lithuania‘s Youth Met with the U.S. Army Cadets
Kazickas Family Foundation‘s program “Youth Can“ invited boys and girls from the regions to meet with the U.S. Army cadets training in Lithuania. More than 300 Lithuanian youth met with 50 U.S Army cadets in Simnas, Smalininkai, Ariogala and Lentvaris on June 5th and 6th accordingly. Teens and cadets got to know each other, to share their experiences and dreams.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel J. Gross was excited that U.S. Army cadets not only train and learn with their Lithuanian counterparts, but they also interact with Lithuanian society at public events and cultural activities. The Cadets and the Lithuanians learn about each other and help build strong ties between the two countries.
“Lithuania is a valuable NATO ally and, therefore, it is important that the longstanding partnership between our countries is carried on by the next generation. When our young Cadets interact with young Lithuanians, they are helping to develop mutual understanding and respect, which is the foundation of our bilateral relationship,“ shared Lieutenant Colonel Daniel J Gross. The message he would like Lithuania‘s young generation to remember is to never take the Freedom for granted: “Most young people in Lithuania have lived their whole lives in a free and democratic country. But Lithuania had to struggle and sacrifice to accomplish this. The youth may not realize how far Lithuania has come in such a short time since regaining its independence less than 30 years ago. The U.S. is proud to stand with Lithuania and we look forward to strengthening our friendship even further in the years to come.“
Kazickas Family Foundation New York office director Neila Baumiliene was also pleased to see U.S. Army cadets meeting the boys and girls from the remote areas of Lithuania and stated that such firsthand interaction makes the partnership stronger and exhibits U.S. and NATO committment to Lithuania: “U.S. cadet visits prove NATO commitment to be present in the member countries, to protect their interests in a case of war, to provide assistance during the natural disasters, and to secure good partnership in times of peace.”
According to N. Baumiliene, U.S. Army cadet visits show the trust and approval of the „Youth Can“ program by the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania: “Each year approximately 1,500 cadets participate in the U.S. cadet international summer programs in 43 different countries. While chatting with the young cadets during the “Youth Can“ end of season event in Vilnius last year, it was such a pleasure to hear from their leader that Lithuania has one of the best reputations amongst all the countries. U.S. Embassy in Lithuania has visits with the “Youth Can“ program on top of their list of recommendations.
“Youth Can“ program provided by the Kazickas Family Foundation was based on a “Hoops4Hope“ program in Zimbabwe. “Youth Can“ program, previously known as “Basketball Power“ program, teaches high risk youth in remote areas life skills through sports and provides opportunities to reach their potential.