The American Red Cross and the GDPC, with sponsorship from Disney, are working to prepare school-age children at home and abroad for the next disaster. Building on nine years of successful Pillowcase Project implementation in cities across the United States, the GDPC has developed a model curriculum allowing Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies around the world to adapt the project for use in their own countries. Using pillowcases and other culturally appropriate containers to hold emergency items like flashlights and bottled water, Red Cross staff and volunteers will teach life-saving preparedness lessons to students around the world.
The Pillowcase Project curriculum consists of a 60-minute classroom presentation, given by Red Cross staff and volunteers, about protective measures to take and coping strategies to employ before and during various locally-relevant disasters. A core component of the program is the emphasis placed on students sharing lessons learned with their families and communities after the presentation. Experience has shown that working through school children is an effective way to introduce critical preparedness skills to new generations and contribute to broader community resilience goals.
In the United States, during a 45-minute classroom presentation, Red Cross staff and volunteers show students the kinds of items they should put in their pillowcase and have with them if they have to leave home following a disaster. Items include flashlights, water, extra clothing and other comfort items. In the same presentation, they share key skills for coping with the stresses of disasters and teach students about protective measures to take during a disaster that is locally prominent, like an earthquake or tornado. The classroom setting, short time period of the lesson and the fun, hands-on aspect of the pillow case present an important opportunity for adaptation and expansion to other areas of the world.