Parkway student’s mission is to help military families

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Brianna Cooley stands on Barksdale Air Force Base flight line (Courtesy Photo)

Month of the Military Child is observed each April as a time to highlight the importance of military children and families worldwide. And, to honor and celebrate military children and youth for their service, acknowledge the important role military children play in their communities.

The highly mobile, military lifestyle impacts every member of the family with frequent relocations and a life of uncertainty and change being the norm. Children sacrifice close relationships and endure deployments or separations along with their loved ones in uniform.

Parkway High School student, Brianna Cooley, has grown up in a military family. She, like so many other military children, has seen some of the challenges our military service members’ families face.

Knowing the difficulties military children face within a community, Cooley has made it her mission to advocate for volunteering, spread kindness, and connect the link between military children and the community.

“I consider myself a serial problem solver because I look at things in new communities through fresh eyes using my networks both here and at previous bases to try to solve problems,” Cooley said.

“I started my first initiative, “B’s Birthday Surprises,” when I was 8 years old. We recognized local military members serving away from home on their birthday by coordinating birthday surprises with their families. At age 11, I began an initiative called “B’s bags.” I would pack hygiene items needed and deliver them on vacations. I delivered in eight or ten major cities across five states in 2019,” she added.

Cooley continued, “In 2020, I launched the “Little Warriors Kindness Crew” with Trey McGuire and the Every Warrior Network as an anti-suicide initiative. My goal is to be encouraging to children, to show kindness, to participate in community service and to mentor other children in their area. I believe through serving others, we get much more than we give. And by serving others, we’re better able to understand our place in this world and the purpose for why God created us. When you understand your purpose, you understand how amazing this world is.”

Cooley further stated, “I have also been a part of Giving Tuesday Military. I’ve been able to spear 13,200 acts of kindness on Giving Tuesday 2019 in 2020. I was also able to serve with my friend, Hannah Grau, out of Virginia as the two youth leads with Giving Tuesday Military. We encouraged children, teenagers and adults,” she added.

With all of her hard work and dedication that she has put in over the years, Cooley has caught the eye of state officials within Louisiana.

“With the Lieutenant Governor’s office and Volunteer Louisiana, I’ve been able to highlight 26 volunteers this year for their work both in our area and throughout Louisiana, with each volunteer earning over 150 volunteer hours in 2020. I am also working with Volunteer Louisiana to advocate for their diploma endorsement to recognize high schoolers who have volunteered over 80 hours during their high school career to better their community. My goal is to have at least 25% of my graduating class being recognized with this endorsement,” said Cooley.

Even when Covid-19 struck our area over a year ago, that didn’t stop Cooley from continuing to spread her acts of kindness and dedication for volunteering around our local area.

“During Covid, my work with the Every Warrior Network opened some cool doors. I was able to serve others by delivering toilet paper, lysol wipes, disinfectant spray, and hand sanitizer to first responders and airmen who were unable to locate the supplies they needed. I spent the month of April coordinating and marketing Kindness Bingo when I saw that children were really struggling with remaining indoors at home and parents we’re seeking ways to encourage and support their children. Each day, I would go live across several platforms on social media with daily tips and tricks on how to show kindness in your community. With the success of Kindness Bingo, I developed a Kind Kid campaign. I’m hoping this campaign will promote children to understand the importance of small acts of kindness in their daily lives. I’m excited to dive further into this project this summer and launch it at several of our area schools next year,” Cooley said.

Cooley stressed that she believes every initiative that she works on is important. “Teaching children to love their community, to serve others, and to show kindness is a gift that can never be taken away from them. It’s a gift that will allow them to discover their own purpose. It’s the only way we can change our community and the world we live in,” she added.

Cooley concluded with advising other military children to keep pushing and to not be afraid of being their own advocate.

“My advice to younger military children, and really all young children, is to always show kindness. Even to those that don’t show kindness immediately to you. Keep pushing for what you know is right. Never be afraid to be your own advocate and don’t be afraid to reach out to mentors to help guide you along your way,” said Cooley.

At this time, Cooley plans to graduate from Parkway High School in the Top 10 of her class and one year earlier than expected (with over 40 credits at Bossier Parish Community College).

Following high school, she plans to attend the University of Alabama to study healthcare management. She also has plans to earn a doctorate in physical therapy or occupational therapy.