You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Red Cross Prepares DPS Students for Disaster

User News Image
The Pillowcase Project curriculum is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share.

In an effort that aims to prepare more than 2,000 Denver-area elementary-age children and their families for disasters, the American Red Cross is launching The Pillowcase Project at eight Denver Public Schools (DPS) sites in September, which is National Preparedness Month.

The  Pillowcase Project is a national Red Cross pilot program in schools, after-school programs, summer camps and other youth programs and events to teach 3rd - 5th graders and their families how to prepare for disasters. The Red Cross of Colorado offered the pilot training at the Denver Parks and Recreations Summer in the Parks program, and is now launching The Pillowcase Project as part of the Simply Safe program delivered in Denver Public Schools. Simply Safe is a collaborative safety program involving the American Red Cross, the Denver Fire Department, the Firefighter’s Museum and Community Resources Inc.   

The Pillowcase Project curriculum is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share. Students will learn about hazards, how to prepare for emergencies, enhance coping skills, practice what they have learned and share their knowledge with friends and family. The program emphasizes the importance of developing an emergency communications plan, fire evacuation plan and emergency contact cards.

The program also teaches students how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during an emergency. Students will have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases.

The Red Cross of Colorado is one of 60 Red Cross regions piloting the program this year, with the goal of expanding the program to 96 regions by the end of 2015.

“We are thrilled to bring The Pillowcase Project to Denver schools and after-school programs. The program gives students the opportunity to learn about the science behind various hazards and the importance of preparedness in a fun and interactive way,” said Julia Richards, Youth Preparedness Coordinator for the Red Cross of Colorado.  “The hands-on activities will also help to build confidence so that kids are prepared to take action during an emergency.” 

The Red Cross of Colorado is also rolling out the program in Northern Colorado and hopes to expand it throughout the region. In addition to providing the training at eight DPS schools in September, the Red Cross will continue to deliver The Pillowcase Project at other DPS schools throughout the school year.

Created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project was inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Through the program, the Red Cross aims to incorporate preparedness education into elementary school and after-school curriculums nationwide. The program is sponsored by Disney.

“Being ready for a disaster isn’t hard, and it isn’t just about a ‘someday’ event,” said Russ Paulsen, executive director, Community Preparedness for the Red Cross nationwide. “The Pillowcase Project shows how you can take an everyday object, have it do double-duty in an emergency, and build confidence and coping skills that help kids even before a disaster.”

In addition to The Pillowcase Project trainings, the Red Cross is promoting preparedness and lifesaving training throughout the month of September as part of National Preparedness Month. This year, the Red Cross is celebrating 100 years of saving lives in Colorado and encourages individuals, families, businesses and organizations to take action to get prepared – whether by taking CPR training, attending the Red Cross Business Preparedness Academy or taking part in local preparedness activities as part of America’s PrepareAthon. Find out more about National Preparedness Month activities or The Pillowcase Project.