Building on the success of the “Pillowcase Project” that has been introduced in several cities across the United States with support from the Walt Disney Company, the American Red Cross and Global Disaster Preparedness Center will develop a model lesson plan and other tools for Red Cross national societies to adapt and use in classroom settings in their own countries.
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. A core component of the program is the emphasis placed on students sharing the information and excitement to prepare with their families and communities after the presentation.
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.
As the largest humanitarian network in the world, the Red Cross and Red Crescent network plays an essential role everywhere in helping communities to prepare for and respond to the impacts of disaster events. Working through school children has been an effective way of introducing critical preparedness skills to new generations and contributing to broader community resilience goals.
With the support of Disney, the American Red Cross and the Global Disaster Preparedness Center will expand the national “Pillowcase Project” to three countries as a pilot. The pilot will offer an opportunity to explore delivering the “Pillowcase Project” in new contexts as either a complementary tool that can be combined with any existing school-based disaster risk reduction program or as a stand alone preparedness activity with Red Cross partners where other risk reduction programming does not exist.
The project will reach 10 to 15 schools in each pilot country before May 2014, and evaluations will be conducted to examine the efficacy of the adapted tools and classroom learning in unique contexts. The hope is that the project will provide a foundation of learning and experience to support the broader scale up of these tools globally.