CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The American Red Cross wants lifelong disaster preparedness to start in childhood.
On Thursday, a handful of Red Cross volunteers learned the basics of the Pillowcase Project program so they can travel to schools and other groups in the Heartland to teach children how to prepare for the disasters most likely to hit their communities.
"We know those kids are sponges they're soaking up all that information and they're going to go home and talk to their parents about making their homes more safe," said Sara Gerau of the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Pillowcase Project is sponsored by Disney and the American Red Cross. It is an education and preparedness program for third through fifth grade children.
"Knowledge is powerful and if you can get to an eight year old and have that conversation about disaster preparedness, they're not going to be scared when they hear that tornado siren," said Gerau. "They're going to know what to do because they've learned about it at an early age."
The Pillowcase Project sprung out of the American Red Cross' response to Hurricane Katrina.
"It was actually spearheaded through Hurricane Katrina where people were leaving and throwing their belongings in a pillowcase," said Gerau. "The red cross saw that opportunity to get in there and talk to children about how they can be prepared."
Following the hour-long presentation students will receive a sturdy pillowcase in which to build their personal emergency supplies kit.
If you'd like volunteers with the American Red Cross to bring the Pillowcase Project to your school, after-school program, youth group, or scout troop meeting contact the Southeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross at 573-335-9471.