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Red Cross Launches The Pillowcase Project for Third-Graders

Red Cross Launches The Pillowcase Project for Third-Graders

Red Cross volunteer Lenora Doane, of Binghamton, explains to Tioga Elementary School third-grade students how their pillowcases perform double-duty in an emergency. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Haupt).

The hands-on activities will also help to build confidence so that kids are prepared to take action during an emergency.

The American Red Cross of the Southern Tier recently launched The Pillowcase Project, a pilot in-school and after-school program to teach third-grade students and their families how to prepare for disasters.

The American Red Cross of the Southern Tier is one of 19 Red Cross chapters piloting the program, which will launch nationwide in January 2014.

Red Cross volunteers and staff members presented The Pillowcase Project pilot Oct. 9 at Tioga Elementary School in Tioga Center, and Oct. 16 at MacArthur Elementary School at St. Francis Church in Binghamton.

“We are thrilled to bring The Pillowcase Project to Southern Tier 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 Jill Deskins, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of the Southern Tier. “The hands-on activities will also help to build confidence so that kids are prepared to take action during an emergency.”

The Pillowcase Project curriculum follows three essential teaching steps: Learn, Practice and Share. Students will learn 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 – a common household item – for easy transport during an emergency. Students have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases.

The course materials are produced by Young Minds Inspired, the nation’s leading provider of free educational outreach programs for learners of all ages. Dominic Kinsley, Ph.D., Managing Partner/Editor in Chief of Young Minds Inspired, attended the program at Tioga Elementary School on behalf of the American Red Cross national headquarters.

“Dr. Kinsley said he thought we did a great job and he could tell how prepared our volunteers were,” Deskins said. “The students loved the program.”

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

“Being ready for a disaster isn’t hard, and it isn’t just about a ‘someday’ event,” said Russ Paulsen, who leads 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.”

For more information about The Pillowcase Project, click here. To learn how your school or after-school program can participate in the program after it launches nationally, contact Jill Deskins at (607) 785-7207.