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Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) at Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) took on a younger look last Thursday as youth came onboard for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2014.

“This year’s theme was ‘Plant a Seed, Grow a Future,’ which suggests that an even bigger and brighter future is ahead for all of the nation’s daughters and sons,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Margret Merino, chief of pediatrics at WRNMMC and an organizer for activities at the medical center.

Merino added the theme “reminds our youth to be brave as they dream seemingly impossible dreams, explore new challenges and attain the success they have always hoped for in education, work, home, and in their communities.”

More than 160 youth registered and attended Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2014 at Walter Reed Bethesda, Merino said. Those children, ages 7 to 14, were “exposed to the many facets of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the day opened their eyes to the numerous opportunities within the nation’s most prestigious military medical center,” the pediatrician continued.

“We felt that this event supported the Service Excellence pillar by promoting pride in one’s workplace and strengthening family connections by helping children see what their parents do every day,” Merino said. “We also hoped to inspire children regarding their own future plans.”

During their day at the nation’s medical center, daughters and sons of WRNMMC staff participated in the morning flag ceremony, toured hospital areas, visited with therapy dogs, were given an occupational therapy and physical therapy demonstration, had hands-on training in the state-of-the-art simulation center, got an up-close view of fire and emergency medical vehicles and equipment, received instruction for enlisted drill and ceremony and received certificates during a closing ceremony.

One of the youths who came to WRNMMC for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2014 was Merino’s daughter, Isabella, 10. “She enjoyed the event, especially the therapy dogs. She was pretty tired by the end of the day and impressed by the size of Walter Reed Bethesda, and how much walking around and stair climbing we did throughout the day.”

Joe Malley, who works in Ears, Nose and Throat/Otolaryngology, brought his children, Emily, 13 and Ben, 11, to WRNMMC for the day. “I wanted them to see where I work,” he said, adding during his active duty service in the Navy, he was stationed here.

“It was awesome,” Emily said of her day at WRNMMC. She said she enjoyed the therapy dog demonstration, as well as a table set up by the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which displayed various organs of the body.

Assebe Derese, who works in WRNMMC’s Stem Cell Laboratory, brought his son, Abem, 9, to WRNMMC for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2014. During his day here, Abem said he learned “how Walter Reed Bethesda is a healing place.”

On a tour of the medical center, Army Maj. Janell Pulido, service chief of 5E Internal Medicine, explained to her son James, 8, the significance of the statue “Unspoken Bond” in the flag lobby of Building 10. The statue depicts a hospital corpsman assisting an injured colleague wounded in battle.

“I want him to see what I do every day,” said the nurse. “I want him to have a sense of the medical center and learn about the military.”

At the therapy dogs demonstration, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rhoneli Merilous, a nuclear medicine technologist, and his son Gabriel, 11, watched the well-trained canines obediently follow commands for treats. Gabriel said despite the chilly, early-morning temperatures, he was enjoying “spending time with dad and learning what he does and what happens at his work.”

Take Our Daughters to Work Day was created in New York during the summer of 1992 by the Ms. Foundation for Women and its president, Marie C. Wilson, with support from foundation founder Gloria Steinem, according to the National Women’s History Museum. The first celebration took place on April 22, 1993 and has since been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April every year. The program expanded to include young men in 2003, and organizers estimate more than 25 million young people have participated in the event since the year 2000.

“For over 21 years, individuals, families, organizations and workplaces have joined Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day to expand opportunities and transform the lives of millions of girls and boys both nationally and internationally,” stated Carolyn McKecuen, executive director of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. “By bringing girls and boys together, we will continue to create a more equitable world — at home, at school, in the workplace, and in the community,” she added.