Disaster Speaks


Disaster Speaks is a powerful event that gives you the opportunity to personalize disaster. Large boxes will represent lost homes and will have stories attached about someone who has made the unthinkable journey through a disaster. After viewing the boxes, students can share the steps they will take to become prepared and fill out an Emergency Contact Card.


On average, the victims of nearly 70,000 disasters each year rely on the Red Cross for immediate help. By holding a Disaster Speaks event at your school, you can educate your peers on Red Cross disaster services and empower them to take control before a disaster strikes. You are also acting as a voice for those who have had their lives forever changed by the disaster. 


How to Get Started

Step 1: Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Define your desired outcomes for the activity and create measurable goals and objectives to guide the planning process. We encourage you to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into your activity and be creative with your approaches.  

Step 2: Plan the Details

Select the disaster stories for this activity. Here are some examples:

   • Disaster Relief (YouTube) Videos

   • American Red Cross News & Events

   • Local stories

Step 3: Coordinate the Logistics

Set a date and time

   • This activity will take about an hour. 

Secure a venue

    • Choose an area of the school that is visible to students, such as the main hallway or the cafeteria. Be sure to follow your school’s procedures to get permission.

   • September is National Preparedness Month, so consider hosting this activity and reinforcing the importance of preparedness. 

Assign roles and responsibilities

   • This activity requires volunteers to set up and facilitate.

Gather supplies

   • Create a list of needed supplies and plan to acquire them in advance. You will need items such as:

       • Large boxes to represent homes lost to the disaster. 

       • Printouts (stories) for attaching to the front of the boxes.

       • Display board to place with the name of the activity (Disaster Speaks), the Red Cross logo, and the question “What will you do to prepare?”

       • Enough copies of the Emergency Contact Cards for your peers to complete.  


Spread the Word

   • Advertise the activity through various channels such as social media, email, and school announcements.

   • Send a reminder with important details prior to the activity.  


Step 4: Facilitate the Activity

   • Run through Step 2 and Step 3 in advance and engage the participants throughout the activity.

   • Arrive early to set up for the activity.

   • Place the display board in a place where students can participate after viewing the stories, which will lead to a more meaningful response from them. Have markers so that students can share how they will take steps to prepare themselves.

   • Invite your peers to fill out the Emergency Contact Cards.   

Step 5: Debrief and Thank Your Volunteers

   • Invite participants to discuss their experiences and capture lessons learned.

   • Thank everyone who contributed and participated.

   • Remind volunteers to record their hours through Volunteer Connection.