“Emergencies can happen on a moment’s notice. To cope with emergency situations, children need basic disaster response skills and age appropriate activities and supplies,” said Katie Kang, regional director of Volunteer and Youth Services for the Greater Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Teens in high school Red Cross Clubs in the Long Beach area are helping to ensure that children in their community have the information and equipment they need. The young philanthropists host an annual party at which elementary school children learn how to be prepared for emergencies; they also fill a personal backpack with emergency supplies.
Filling the Emergency Backpack
Vicki Tang, a member of the Long Beach Polytechnic High School Red Cross Club, talks about the “smiles and laughter” as dozens of kids went from table to table getting the supplies to fill their packs. Stickers, magic markers and crayons decorated flashlights, water bottles, first aid kits, and more.
Earlier, members of each high school Red Cross club was asked to provide one of the backpack items, including bars of soap, batteries, toothbrushes, tooth paste and granola bars. A dance attended by more than 200 young Red Cross volunteers raised the money for the backpacks.
Make a Child-friendly Preparedness Backpack
Teach the children in your life basic preparedness skills, and help them fill a backpack with some personalized disaster supplies. Imagine the comfort of knowing you child is able to call 9-1-1, or has a pack of familiar items to bring to an evacuation shelter. read more...
Volunteers decorated until 10:00 p.m. the night before, and were back at 7:00 a.m. the next day to get a briefing and their assignments. As families arrived, each child was introduced to a personal escort who accompanied them through the activities, while parents attended an emergency preparedness briefing. Teens fluent in Spanish and in Khamer were on hand to escort Latin and Cambodian children who did not speak English.
One table was piled with colorful whistles and bowls of beads. As kids glued beads on their whistles, they learned that a whistle makes it easier to be found if they are stranded in a fire or building collapse. At another table children decorated a mini first aid kit with stickers, learned how to use each item in the kit and when to call 9-1-1. At another stop they made maps of their homes and decided the best emergency escape route.
No child’s disaster backpack is complete without something to occupy the long hours of emergency sheltering. So, at the end of the trip, each child received a toy, along with instructions that if they took the toy out of the backpack to play with, they needed to replace it with another toy.
Make a Difference through Your Red Cross School Club
“You never know what kind of a difference you can make in people’s lives,” said Faviolanny Rath, this year’s youth chair, “but this event sure felt like we did.”
Tens of thousands of American Red Cross volunteers are age 18 and under. Many chapters sponsor school clubs and offer other youth activities including leadership training, swimming, lifeguarding, CPR, babysitting and wilderness and remote first aid.
Contact your local Red Cross to learn about opportunities for young volunteers in your community.