The Pillowcase Project was started in New Orleans by the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter following Hurricane Katrina. Chapter CEO Kay Wilkins heard about college students who had evacuated and were using pillowcases to carry their valuables and belongings. The chapter implemented the program using pillowcases to teach children about preparedness and help them recover and become stronger following Katrina.
The Pillowcase Project soon spread to Red Cross chapters in other states. Starting in April 2015, the campaign will expand nationally to all Red Cross chapters.
The program teaches 8- to 11-year-olds about natural hazards, safety, emotional coping skills, how to prepare for disasters, and the importance of personal preparedness and sharing their knowledge with friends and family. The program is taught in schools, summer camps, youth clubs and after-school settings. Chapter staff and volunteers teach the program through classroom instruction and interactive activities. The curriculum meets many of the Common Core State Standards for grades 3 to 5.
The training is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share. Learn how emergencies happen and how to stay safe when they do; Practice what you learn so you’ll be ready when an emergency happens; and Share what you’ve learned so that everyone knows how to stay safe in an emergency.
The program also teaches students how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase. Pillowcases are easy to transport during an emergency and students get to decorate and personalize them. Each student receives My Preparedness Workbook, a pillowcase, and a certificate of completion at the end of the training.
“The Pillowcase Project is an excellent program and is well received by students and educators,” said Jill Deskins, Pillowcase Project Program Manager for the American Red Cross Western & Central New York Region. “The components ‘Learn, Practice, Share’ make the program both educational and fun. We would like to thank Disney for sponsoring such a wonderful program.”
For more information about The Pillowcase Project in the Red Cross Central New York Chapter (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties) and how your school, after-school program or community group can participate, contact Casey Pfeffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (315) 234-2221.