“Get out! Stay out! Call 9-1-1!”
The elementary school students shouted the phrase in unison at Katie Kellum as she stood in the front of their classroom. A big smile broke out across her face as she realized her presentation was resonating with her audience of little preparedness experts.
“It was awesome to see that they not only remembered a very important part of the presentation, but their enthusiasm and readiness to repeat back what they learned,” said Katie.
Katie is one of many volunteer youth educators with the Red Cross, and today she was teaching a Pillowcase Project presentation to elementary students in an after school program. The Pillowcase Project, presented by Disney, is a preparedness education program for children in grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills.
“Initially, I was drawn to the mission of the Red Cross,” said Katie, “I was recruited by one of my clinical instructors while in the second semester of Nursing school. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the organization, and began helping set up shelters for relief during evacuations as a result of forest fires. I later got involved with the Pillowcase Project as a method of educating school aged children about home fire prevention.”
Katie had the class take out their Preparedness Workbooks and turn to page 6. She explained that this is where they can practice and share what they learned about emergency preparedness with everyone at home. They could work with a grownup to draw a home fire escape map that shows two ways out of every room in their home, and a meeting place outside.
“My favorite part of volunteering is being able to interact with kids, teach them some valuable information that they can share, and have a significant role in preventing home fires and preparing the kids for the possibility of any kind of disaster,” said Katie.
Then it was time for the best part of the presentation: the pillowcases! Katie pulled out her own pillowcase and showed the students examples of items to include in a kit. They worked as a class to determine which items are most important for their own kits. Now it was time for them to decorate their own pillowcases to take home.
Volunteer educators like Katie are part of the more than 90% volunteer workforce that provides humanitarian service in the Central California Region. The Red Cross thanks and honors these selfless and compassionate every day heroes during National Volunteer Week, April 12 – 18. Click here to learn more about the “Day in the Life of a Volunteer” series.