Eva-Mai Little has been named ‘Little Trooper of the Month’ for coping with the unique challenges that military life can bring on top of dealing with a difficult health condition.
In the last six years, Eva-Mai has been to five different schools in Germany, Cyprus, Wales and now England, as the family have moved around with the Army. Eva-Mai’s Dad regularly works away from home on military operations, missing special occasions like Christmases and Eva-Mai’s birthday. He’s been on exercise since the beginning of this year and isn’t due home until April. He will then deploy overseas for six months from August.
Eva-Mai started at Christchurch Primary School in September and found it hard at first being one of just six military children in the school, as her peers couldn’t understand what it was like to have a parent away on exercise or deployment and missing important events both inside and outside of school.
On top of the challenges of growing up in the Armed Forces, Eva-Mai suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic condition which affects her connective tissue and can cause pain when doing everyday tasks like writing at school.
Eva-Mai’s Mum, Lyndsey Little, nominated her for the Little Troopers award and explains: “Eva-Mai is such a star who takes everything in her stride. This year has been particularly difficult as it’s the first time she’s struggled to settle at a new school and make new friends and it’s been especially hard with her Dad being away. Her EDS makes moving school more of a challenge as we have to explain everything again to her new teachers and ask if she can use a computer rather than writing and it’s sometimes difficult for her classmates to understand. The school have put things in place to support forces families including an after school club, so that has been really helpful.”
Eva-Mai’s older sister also sadly passed away before Eva-Mai was born which was very difficult for the family. Eva-Mai is often asked if she has any siblings when she moves to a new school and always speaks about her sister up in heaven.
Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, the charity, comments: “Moving between multiple schools can be really hard for military children. Not only do they have to say goodbye to their friends and make new ones each time but there are academic challenges too, as schools deliver the curriculum differently, leaving children with gaps in their learning or having to adapt to doing things differently. It can be especially hard for military children to move to a school where there are no other children who understand what it’s like to have a parent deployed on active service.
“To cope with so much change on top of having a painful health condition is really tough and we think that children like Eva-Mai deserve recognition for coping with so much challenge and change. We hope that the medal helps her to realise that she is a special little trooper and that we all think she is amazing.”
Eva-Mai will receive a special medal, certificate and a £50 cinema voucher as her prize.