By Nihit Pokhrel
This September, as part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross is gearing up for different ways to remind us that we must always be prepared. With students going back to school for the academic year, the Pillowcase Project – a preparedness education program for grades 3 through 5 – arrives at the right time and is one of the most successful Red Cross campaigns throughout the nation.
The Pillowcase Project is a free, interactive program inspired by students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations in New Orleans. By training youth ages 8-11 at school, club events and after school programs, the Pillowcase Project aims to create a generation of resilient children who understand the science of hazards and are empowered to act during emergencies.
The curriculum is structured as a Learn, Practice, Share framework. Through a 40 to 60-minute instructor-led presentation, students learn about a possible local hazard and how to best prepare for it.
They learn ways to be safe during a disaster (for example, recognize the closest exit), how to handle stressful situations, and how to identify safety tools at home. Participants put together an emergency plan and have a chance to personalize a provided sturdy pillowcase, which they take home to serve as a container for a personal emergency supply kit. They are encouraged to share the information and skills learned with their family and friends.
Educating more than one million students nationwide, the Pillowcase Project continues to emerge as a fun and easy way to prepare youth for a disaster locally, nationally and internationally. The Pillowcase Project officially started in the Northwest Region in 2014 in partnership with the founding sponsor, The Walt Disney Company. In the last fiscal year, the Northwest Region Red Cross hosted 61 Pillowcase presentations and reached 3,559 participants.
Schools and other groups located in the Northwest region (basically the state of Washington) that are interested in participating, please contact the Red Cross at NW.Preparedness@redcross.org.