ROX cultivates Cannon daughters’ strength, confidence

Laura Jordan, Command Program & Peer Network Coordinator, and Master Sgt. Shakia Knight, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, lead a class on self-defense March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a ROX (ruling our experiences) mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

Laura Jordan, Command Program & Peer Network Coordinator, and Master Sgt. Shakia Knight, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, lead a class on self-defense March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a ROX (ruling our experiences) mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

Jazmila, a 5th grade student in the ROX (ruling our experiences) program, practices self-defense techniques March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

Jazmila, a 5th grade student in the ROX (ruling our experiences) program, practices self-defense techniques March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

Girls celebrate learning the basics of self-defense March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a ROX (ruling our experiences) mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

Girls celebrate learning the basics of self-defense March 28, 2017 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The class was part of a ROX (ruling our experiences) mini-camp designed to teach educate and empower school-age girls. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/released)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M -- Cannon is celebrating the Month of the Military Child in April, but our helping agencies work all year round to keep Airmen and their families resilient. When Master Sgt. Shakia Knight, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, came across ROX, she knew she had found a program that would fit the 27 SOW’s commitment to building strong Air Commando families.

ROX, short for “ruling our experiences,” is a nonprofit that strives for the education, development and empowerment of school-age girls, according to their website. The program normally lasts 20 weeks during the school year, but Knight saw an opportunity to run a miniature version of the curriculum over spring break.

“Running a mini-camp allowed us to include girls from multiple schools as well as home-schooled students,” Knight said. “Once they find some similarities with each other, that connection grows into confidence, and the confidence grows into leadership.”

The mini-camp, which included talks and activities on conflict, communication, social media and cyberbullying, self-defense, relationships, stress, academics, leadership, body image, helps give young women the tools they need to make healthy choices.

Practical self-defense was a popular unit, with attendees striking practice mats and speaking out as they learned how to take control of a potentially dangerous situation.

“I liked being able to connect to more girls my age,” said Makayla, an 8th grader who attended the mini-camp. “We got to grow together and learn how to defend ourselves.”

For Knight, there is a clear connection between her work as a ROX facilitator and a first sergeant.

“As a first sergeant, I am in the business of people,” she said. “How do you keep Air Commandos ready, relevant, and resilient? You take care of them and their families. We are building healthy relationships through strong girls.”

“Air Commandos can focus on the mission when they know their families are being taken care of,” Knight continued. “We strengthen and build girls’ skills so they can be healthy and productive. It’s a chain reaction of connection, positivity and empowerment. I’m grateful to have witnessed that.”

Families interested in enrolling should look out for information on the next ROX session through regular military channels like email, social media or web publications. Interested volunteers should contact Cannon’s Preservation of the Force and Family coordinator at 904-6763.