A Recipe for Disaster Preparedness

Marie Nordahl, Red Cross Youth Engagement Intern, helps kids practice calling 9-1-1. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Marie Nordahl, Red Cross Youth Engagement Intern, helps kids practice calling 9-1-1. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

What happens when you put 12 high school students in charge of 50 five- and six-year-olds? You might think it’s a recipe for disaster. But on Thursday, January 31, at Chelsea Heights Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota, this match-up was a great recipe for disaster preparedness.

The high school students, who are part of the Future Educators Club at Como Park High School in St. Paul, worked with the Red Cross to plan an Elementary Prepare Fair – an opportunity for young kids to learn about calling 9-1-1, preventing basic injuries, tornado safety and other important topics.

High school students Dominic and Stephen talked to kindergarteners about fire safety, explaining that fire is very hot and that only adults should handle it. Dominic then taught the kids how to stop, drop, and roll, demonstrating what to do and leading the kids through a practice run. The kids giggled as they watched Dominic roll across the carpet and under a table decorated with red paper flames, then tried it themselves.

Dominic, a Como Park High School student, demonstrates how to stop, drop and roll. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Dominic, a Como Park High School student, demonstrates how to stop, drop and roll. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

Katie and Nicole taught students about poison safety using a bright poster and props. They showed students that some poisons – like cleaning products or adult medicines – look very similar to safe products, and explained to always ask an adult before eating or drinking something that may be unsafe.

At a nearby table, kids had the opportunity to practice calling 9-1-1 on bright red play phones. “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” the phone prompted. “There’s a fire in my house!” a kindergartener responded. The high school students then asked him his name and address, coaching him on what to tell the 9-1-1 operator. “Great job! High five!” they praised when the pretend call was complete.

Katie and Nicole from the Como Park Future Educators Club talk with kids about safe substances versus poisons in the home. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Katie and Nicole from the Como Park Future Educators Club talk with kids about safe versus poison substances. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

At the end of the fair, the elementary students received colorful achievement certificates, which were prepared and signed by the Future Educators.

The Elementary Prepare Fair is one of several new youth engagement projects for high school students who want to volunteer with the Red Cross, Northern Minnesota Region. Interested groups can contact Volunteer Resources at (612) 871-7676 or arctc.vsvolunteer@redcross.org to learn more and get involved.

Thank you to the fantastic Como Park Future Educators for their hard work and enthusiasm. Because of you, fifty young kids are better prepared for disasters and emergencies!

Story and photos by Lisa Joyslin, Volunteer Resources Director, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region

Author: American Red Cross

The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Minnesota Region serves 5.2 million people across Minnesota and part of western Wisconsin.

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