Friday, June 6, 2014

Targeted programs prepare Colorado and Wyoming Children

The Simply Safe Program, a Denver Public Schools initiative to deliver safety information to students in elementary school, just wrapped up its fourth year of successful programming.

Simply Safe comprises five key community partners, including the American Red Cross, who collaborated to design and implement the high-impact safety program. The goal of Simply Safe is to provide critical fire, natural-hazard, and household safety information to students and their families in Early Childhood Education through fifth grade.

The program draws on the expertise of fire educators, community preparedness professionals at the American Red Cross, curriculum specialists, and risk management staff. While previously the Denver Firefighter’s Museum, the American Red Cross and the Denver Fire Department each presented individual programs to youth in the school system, the collaborative partnership of Simply Safe offered a full suite of age-appropriate programs to almost 35,000 elementary and middle school students in the Denver Public School system.

Evaluation results reveal that 70% of the students who received the preparedness and fire safety training talked to someone at home about what they learned through Simply Safe, and more than 65% of the students talked to someone at home and completed a family disaster plan to better prepare themselves for emergencies and disasters.

Building on the success of Simply Safe in Denver Public Schools, the American Red Cross Colorado and Wyoming Region is launching a new, grant-funded national Youth Preparedness Program called The Pillowcase Project.

The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter and implemented in New Orleans schools following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. New Orleans CEO Kay Wilkins had learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated for Katrina. This inspired Wilkins and her team to work with an art therapist to create a program around decorating pillowcases for the children living in makeshift communities across New Orleans during Katrina recovery. Soon, their Pillowcase Project became a preparedness education program for elementary school students, and in just a few years had been adapted and implemented by several other Red Cross chapters with substantial success.

 In early 2013, the Walk Disney Company funded the design and development phase of a multi-year effort to build on this success by creating a standardized, state-of-the-art preparedness education program. As a result, The Pillowcase Project can now be customized for use by Red Cross chapters, including chapters within the Colorado-Wyoming Region, and across the United States to reach hundreds of thousands of elementary school age children in both school and after-school settings.

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