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American Red Cross and Disney Prepare Students for Disasters

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Children learn to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies

As part of National Preparedness Month this September, the America Red Cross and Disney renewed their commitment to help teach disaster preparedness to children and families through the Pillowcase Project initiative. The Pillowcase Project will expand across the country while continuing to support in-school and after-school curriculum to help 3rd to 5th grade students learn how to prepare for and cope with emergencies.

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 during the presentation, and are encouraged to take them home to create a kit. 

“This amazing program for children is one that we are very proud to call our own.” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaii Red Cross. “We are thrilled to continue The Pillowcase Project in schools and after-school programs across the state. The program gives our keiki the opportunity to learn about the science behind various hazards and the importance of preparedness in a fun and interactive way.” 

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. 

If you are interested in being trained as a volunteer presenter or if you have a group of 20-30 3rd to 5th grade students who would like a presentation, please contact the Hawaii Red Cross Preparedness Manager, Carole Kaapu at 808-739-8112 or at For more information on The Pillowcase Project go to

On Monday, August 31st Hawaii Red Cross volunteers did Pillowcase Presentations for the Fourth Grade at August Ahrens Elementary School in Waipahu, reaching 193 students.