In the face of disaster…

Last week many US and Caribbean schools, including some of our own Generation YES schools were closed while people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts are with you at this time, and we hope that things get back to normal as quickly as possible.

In times of crisis, young people need facts of course (see Hurricane Sandy resources) and they need reassurance that the world is a good place with people who care. As schools resume, it’s never more important for educators to first be caregivers.

Mr. Rogers told stories about his own mother who would point out the helpful neighbors who appear when bad things happen. Volunteers, firefighters, doctors, utility workers – most people are helpful and generous. Disasters like this provide opportunities to find those people and learn about what they do or to even pitch in yourself.

But even more so for those directly affected, young people need to talk about their experiences and share them with others. The digital world provides new avenues for these kinds of collaboration like this one: The Natural Disaster Youth Summit Forum 2013 hosted by iEARN.

This is a year-long event with the theme: Climate Change and Disaster Reduction – timely, eh? Events, forums, sharing, activities and much more are planned for the entire year.

Another idea is to create your own digital space for student sharing, perhaps in collaboration with other educators near or far.

Read about Quakestories, a collaborative writing project for students to share their stories after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011.

Kim Coffino, one of the project organizers writes, “Quakestories is a collaborative project connecting several international schools in Japan to collect and share student-created works (writing, multimedia, visual arts) about their experiences during and after the earthquake. First, all student-created works will be posted on a central website. Then, once we have a diverse collection of student work, we will select certain pieces to be published in both a paper and electronic book, with the proceeds of both going towards Tohoko relief (to help those most directly affected by the tsunami).”

And finally, don’t forget the power of play. Gerald Jones, cartoonist and author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, says “When something troubles children, they have to play with it until it feels safer.”

Smashing, crashing, and playing at being a monster or the super-hero who saves the day can help kids whose lives have been smashed and crashed.

Be safe –

Sylvia

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