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Urbandale Kids Learn Through The Pillowcase Project

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“If the power goes out, then you would need a flashlight.” -Elliott Cataldi, 3rd Grade Student

The American Red Cross visited Rolling Green Elementary in Urbandale, Iowa to teach third-grade students about the importance of being prepared in an emergency situation.

Sponsored Disney, The Pillowcase Project is a new way to immerse children (grades 3 – 5) in a “Learn,” “Practice” and “Share” demonstration involving disaster preparedness. The children learn about disasters, they practice what to do in case they encounter a disaster, then they’re expected to share the information to their families and people around their community.

Janelle Schmid and Mycaela Crouse, members with the Red Cross/AmeriCorps program, led the day’s demonstration. Although different disasters occur across the U.S., they directed the presentation toward teaching the children about disasters that can affect Central Iowa—tornadoes and house fires.

Once completed with The Pillowcase Project, the students received their own sturdy pillowcases to decorate and fill with personal emergency preparedness kits. Printed on each pillowcase is a list of “needs” that each child may consider placing in his or her own pillowcase. Crouse expressed the importance of having those necessary items in their kits before anything else—items such as flashlights, first aid kits, water and a change of clothes.

“Sometimes you might not be able to go back to your home right away, so it’s good to be able to have a change of clothes,” Crouse explained during the presentation.

Elliott Cataldi, a student at Rolling Green said the first thing he would put in his pillowcase is a flashlight.

“In tornadoes, you need to go to a basement,” Cataldi said. “And if the power goes out, then you would need a flashlight.”

Along with establishing the necessary items to put in the pillowcases, the Red Cross team members also revealed the importance of adding one personal item to each pillowcase—anything from a toy to a stuffed animal—to keep the children calm during a disaster.

The Pillowcase Project ultimately helps the children cope with and prepare for the trauma that comes with any type of emergency situation.