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Tinker finds ways to stay social despite social distancing

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

With current guidance under Health Protection Condition Level Charlie preventing non-mission essential gatherings of more than 10 people, organizations around Tinker Air Force Base have come up with ways to help keep Airmen social while still maintaining a physical distance.

The 72nd Force Support Squadron has provided one of the biggest pushes for virtual socializing throughout April by hosting a Virtual Month of Fun to encourage Airmen and their families to remain social.

Hosted through the Tinker Living Facebook page, each day of the week throughout April the 72nd FSS has featured an activity, contest, giveaways and more. Such events have included fitness activities, trivia nights, scavenger hunts, storytelling and other interactive events.

Tinker’s Child and Youth Services Flight has also provided a multitude of long-distance activities through their Facebook page as a way to stay connected with children and families, according to Community Readiness Specialist Nakisha Hall, 72nd Force Support Squadron.

Activities have included exercise routines, science experiments, recipes for foods such as Rice Krispies Treats and other videos that give children activities they can do with their families from home.

“We’re doing this that way no one risks exposure and no one’s messing up the social distancing guidelines,” Hall said. “We’re trying to be flexible but still be fun.”

Tinker’s Hobby Hub, a social networking group, has also been actively engaging Airmen across the installation. The group, which offers more than 30 distinct areas of interest ranging from board games/video gaming to arts and crafts to rock climbing and attending special interest events, has been allowing Airmen to engage with their favorite activities.

This engagement has gone beyond just hobbies to also include activities in support of COVID-19 precautions, such as teaching how to make masks and and supporting a group of Airmen who are donating them to places on base and in the community.

“We have kind of been a conduit to get certain activities like this done as a way to engage in community service and connect through similar interests. We want Team Tinker to own this site and feel free to submit new, fresh ideas, information about events and plan joint activities,” said Maj. Jovanna Gaines, director of Psychological Health with the 72nd Medical Group.

Launched in November to combat a growing sense of isolation or disconnect with activities, programs and events happening around them, Tinker Hobby Hub was aimed at Airmen by bringing them together based on similar hobbies and interests.

 Gaines said that Hobby Hub’s design to expand a sense of social connectedness is a perfect way for Airmen to connect as well as share information and resources in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must continue to be creative,” Gaines said.

A major event the group is working on is a talent showcase, which would allow Airmen to upload videos of them performing their talent of choice and then be judged by leadership, as well as other Airmen across the installation. Prizes will be provided for first, second and third place, as well as for people’s choice.

Gaines said that more information would be shared with the installation as they get closer to finishing the details.

“I think the most important thing is that this is a way to support each other and not just focus on the stress of the day or the week by finding ways to decompress and connect with people who have similar interests,” Gaines said.

Gaines said she wants the community to know that they can offer interesting ideas, videos and information to the Tinker Hobby Hub Facebook page. Once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, she said Tinker Hobby Hub will resume face-to-face activities such as their planned Axe Throwing Event, rock climbing, auto racing and other fun activities.

For more information, check out the 72nd Force Support Squadron and Tinker Youth Center Facebook pages and the Tinker Hobby Hub Facebook group.