To help raise awareness about disaster preparedness among children and teens, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has deployed age-appropriate activities to educate this population.
For children, there are activity books with stories and activities, such as crossword puzzles and mazes, which teach about safety. IEMA developed the Ready Illinois High School Challenge for teens, which helps youth create 30-second scripts about emergency preparedness to serve as state-produced public service announcements (PSAs). To involve older youth, the state involves college students who produce PSAs for IEMA’s emergency preparedness campaign.
One of the most exciting disaster preparedness activities is for Illinois’ middle school students called “The Day the Earth Shook.” Developed with the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Center for Public Safety and Justice, the activity is a video game produced by IEMA that teaches about important safety topics. The video game places the in-game character in an earthquake scenario, and teaches the player about the importance of having a prepared emergency disaster kit and plan to get to safety. IEMA is hoping middle school teachers will implement “The Day the Earth Shook” game into their curriculum. Additionally, to encourage youth to continue to play the game multiple times, they have several opportunities to improve the amount of time it takes them to complete the goals; the best times are tracked on IEMA’s website.
Preparedness in communities and families can and should include children and teens. Emergency managers and government officials are keeping an eye on IEMA’s success so they can develop activities for the youth and children in their own communities.