In an emergency, people feel best when they have good information. Knowing what to do in times of emergency can give someone piece of mind. Kids especially are hungry for “why” something is happening, and teaching them how to react to an emergency prepares the whole family.
The Pillowcase Project is a 1 hour presentation available to kids in grades 3 – 5 to teach them how to be prepared for disasters that are most prevalent in their geographic location. The presentation is available for free through the American Red Cross regional offices, and is built for school groups as well as faith-based or private groups. No matter where the kids are, Red Cross volunteers come to teach them what they and their families should have on hand for an emergency, and what to do if they would ever need to evacuate.
The program also shows kids that there may be strange feelings of fear and dread during an emergency, so they talk about these feelings and are given tools so that they can recognize and try to control them.
The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross southeast Louisiana Chapter and implemented in New Orleans schools following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when New Orleans Chapter CEO Kay Wilkins learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated preceding the hurricane.
Wilkins and her team worked with art therapists to create a program around decorating pillowcases for the children living in temporary communities around New Orleans during Katrina recovery. Soon, the Pillowcase Project became a preparedness education program for elementary school students. The program teaches children the science of hazards and how they are empowered to take action by practicing how to prepare for emergencies, and understanding that, by sharing what they’ve learned with their family and friends, they can help create a better prepared community.
The learning objectives include:
- Use their knowledge to act as advocates for emergency preparedness in their homes and communities.
- Identify the best ways to stay safe during emergencies that occur in their region.
- Describe how coping skills can help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.
- Gain confidence in their abilities to be prepared for emergencies through hands-on activities
- Create an enhanced sense of community through collaborative preparedness activities.
- Discuss the role that science plays in emergency preparedness.
- Communicate the work of the Red Cross to their community.
For more information, contact Lynn Rivera at 702-697-1710 or email her at Lynn.Rivera@redcross.org .