In May 2013, deadly tornadoes swept Moore, Oklahoma, destroying homes and the very foundation of community that families had come to know. At the heart of the destruction were children, whose schools, parks, and child care facilities were damaged beyond recognition, and in some cases, blown away along with children’s sense of routine and normalcy.
Save the Children has spent the year in Moore, facilitating child care reconstruction and emotional recovery for children and caregivers long after the media cameras left. But as the one-year anniversary approached, the organization teamed up with local child care providers and PTA’s to raise the spirits of the kids who bravely endured the tragedy.
“Get Ready! Get Safe!” cheers resounded outside Agapeland Learning Center as children participated in a Prep Rally, a new emergency preparedness program that help kids learn how to protect themselves and their families during a disaster. The theme: Disasters can be scary, but when we have a plan and know what to do, we can feel safe and take action!
“Last year our building was destroyed by the tornado and our teachers were literally holding down children to keep them from being blown away by the winds,” said Memory Taylor, director of Agapeland Learning Center. “Doing a Prep Rally now and teaching kids that we can feel safe again is what these kids need. It’s what our families need to move forward.”
The Prep Rally program covers four basic “Prep Steps”:
- Recognizing Risks
- Planning Ahead
- Gathering Wise Supplies
- During Disaster
Two Moore elementary schools and two child care programs joined in the Prep Rally fun, helping kids learn about preparedness through activities like the Disaster Supplies Relay Race, the UnTelephone Game (an emergency communication game) and story book reading.
“I learned that it’s okay to be scared of tornadoes,” said one 3rd grade student. “And now I know that a [tornado] watch means keep watching the weather and a warning means take action and follow the plan.”
Full of cheers, laughs and lot of energy, the Moore Prep Rallies were a huge success with more than 1,300 children, teachers and staff signing the preparedness pledge and promising to work with their families and community to make a plan and be ready for the next disaster. Making the event extra special was the debut of Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe ambassador, Lassie, who stopped by to lead children in the preparedness pledge and gather disaster supplies in a relay race.
“The Prep Rally builds the spirit of resilience by giving children and families the knowledge and tools they need to prepare for disasters,” said Erin Bradshaw, Senior Director, Save the Children. “It allows kids do kid things–like play games, read books and ask questions–to learn about emergencies and feel safe. Here in Moore, it’s about helping kids continue to cope with last year’s storms by empowering them to prepare for next time.”
Moore, Oklahoma, has endured a long year of rebuilding and recovery, but by lifting up preparedness and the joint efforts of schools, teachers and caregivers, the community has grown back stronger and will be ready to weather whatever storm may come its way.
How are you preparing your family, school, and community for disasters?
Learn about and download the free Prep Rally curriculum at Get Ready Get Safe website: www.savethechildren.org/GetReady.