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Youth Volunteers Help Prepare Children for Disasters

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As a service project celebrating Youth Preparedness Week, members of the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter Club Council presented the Pillowcase Project to second, third and fourth grade students at Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School. Youth Preparedness Week, which took place January 20-24, is an initiative created by the Red Cross to encourage children to be better prepared for disasters and trained in how to handle disaster situations.

During the presentation the Chapter Club Council introduced students to Sammy the Pillowcase and played “thumbs up/thumbs down” games with the students that helped them learn about the different types of disasters common to Kentuckiana such as house fires, tornadoes and ice storms. They also taught students about reliable people in their neighborhood that they can go to for help during a disaster if their parents are hurt or away like a police officer or doctor as well as discussing the special materials that are important to have with them if they were to experience a disaster. The students learned interactive disaster-based dances such as the Ice Storm and Tornado Twirl in which they spun around in fast circles and then suddenly froze when the words “ice storm” were shouted.

Along with teaching the students about individual disasters, Chapter Club Council instructors asked the students to create a disaster plan with their family at home that details where to meet if they ever need to evacuate their residence and encouraged them to practice the plan so everyone in their home is prepared. When the presentation concluded, students received a pillowcase with a glow stick, activity book, Pillowcase Project brochure and first aid kit to take home with them. Presenters suggested other useful materials that students could put in their pillowcases once they got home such as nonperishable food, a battery powered radio and a stuffed animal.

“It was a nice experience,” said Reagan Roy, President of the Club Council and participant in the presentation. “All of the people were nice, and the kids were very respectful. I can’t wait to go to the next one.”

Members of the Chapter Club Council chose to participate in the Pillowcase Project for their monthly service project, but representatives from the Red Cross present this project to students all around the Kentuckiana Region throughout the year. The Louisville Area Chapter launched the Pillowcase Project in 2011 thanks to a sponsorship from LG&E. From September of 2013 to February 2014, the project has reached more than 2,000 students across several Kentucky counties. Their goal is to expand the program and reach as many second and third grade classes as possible–at least 4,000 students by the end of 2014.

For more information about the Pillowcase Project and how to volunteer, visit or call Chelsi Monroe at (502) 561-3776.