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Red Cross and EdVenture Preparing Youth for Disasters through The Pillowcase Project

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Our vision is to create lifelong learners who are knowledgeable about emergency preparedness

This summer, children in Camp EdVenture will be learning how to keep themselves and their families safe in the event of a disaster. The American Red Cross, EdVenture, and South Carolina State Fire are teaming together this summer to teach campers about emergency preparedness through The Pillowcase Project. To date, more than 9,000 youth have participated in The Pillowcase Project in South Carolina. 

The Pillowcase Project is a national program offered through the American Red Cross that teaches students in grades 3–5 and their families how to prepare for disasters. In all seven sessions of EdVenture’s summer camps, children create their own emergency supplies kit by decorating a pillowcase that they can use to pack essential items in for easy transport during an emergency.  In addition to the emergency kits, children learn about different hazards, how to prepare for emergencies, coping skills to use during a disaster and then they practice what they have learned and share their knowledge with friends and family. The program emphasizes the importance of practicing protective actions, developing an emergency communications plan and practicing a home fire drill. Children will have the opportunity to decorate and personalize pillowcases to take them home to create their own kits. 

“We are thrilled to team with EdVenture and South Carolina State Fire to educate campers about disaster preparedness through The Pillowcase Project this summer. 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 Rebecca Jordan, executive director of the Red Cross of Central South Carolina. “The hands-on activities will also help to build confidence so that kids are prepared to take action during an emergency.”  

Teaching The Pillowcase Project during camp this summer is part of an on-going partnership between the American Red Cross and EdVenture. Many of the children who come to EdVenture have their own personal experience with natural disaster such as the flood in October 2014, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and natural disasters.  

“Safety is one of our key focuses at EdVenture”, says Nikki Williams, EdVenture executive vice president. “Therefore, the partnership between the American Red Cross and S.C. State Fire Office is an important one, and it is particularly exciting for us.  Our vision is to create lifelong learners that include youths who are knowledgeable about emergency preparedness and can share creative resources in a fun and useful way.”  

Created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project was inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. Through the program, the Red Cross aims to empower children to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies. The program is made possible thanks to a grant from The Walt Disney Company. 

“Children are particularly vulnerable and at a high risk of being hurt during disasters, which is why we offer programs like The Pillowcase Project. Adults can also help reduce this risk by talking to children about what to do during emergencies and taking preparedness actions as a household, like making a plan,” recommends Harvey Johnson, senior vice president of Disaster Cycle Services at the American Red Cross. 

For more information about The Pillowcase Project, contact Pam Bartley, disaster program manager for the Red Cross, Pam.Bartley@redcross.org or EdVenture’s Extended Learning Coordinator Tiffany Collins, tcollins@edventure.org.