Organizations Work Together to Meet the Emotional Needs of Children Recovering from Disaster
Sarita Fritzler (In Colorado) 203.253.8649
Eileen Burke, Save the Children 203.216.0718
|Joshua is nothing but smiles while his grandpa paints his face during Family Fun Night at his shelter in Greely, Colorado on Sept. 21, 2013. Photo Credit: American Red Cross staff|
Denver, Colo, (September 22, 2013) – The American Red Cross and national partner Save the Children have teamed up to help ease the trauma and impact of the recent floods on local children.
In the initial days following the Colorado floods, the Red Cross worked with Save the Children to provide the "Child-Friendly Spaces" program in evacuation shelters to make the shelters more welcoming for child evacuees and families. The program includes pre-packaged kits that contain equipment to mark off a special area for children, activity supplies (such as art materials, books, games and toys), and other materials to help ensure children’s safety and protection in shelters.
"Emergency shelters, while providing a safe haven from the elements, often place children in unfamiliar places, and typically they lack toys, safe places to play and structured activities for children," said Eric Jones, Assistant Director of Direct Services for the Red Cross disaster response to the Colorado floods. "Through this partnership, children in shelters are allowed to play, learn, socialize and express themselves under the supervision of a caring adult, giving them a sense of normalcy which can help them recover from the experience of weathering a disaster such as the recent floods."
These safe play areas allow children to play, socialize, and begin to recover from emotional distress and offer hundreds of children the chance to be kids again. The kid-friendly activities create a safe and supportive place for children to play with their peers and caring adults in the midst of the turmoil that surrounds them.
"The terrifying floods of the past week have been hard on adults, let alone the children. The stress of fleeing homes amid raging floodwaters can take a heavy toll on children’s emotional well-being," said Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Senior Director of U.S. Emergencies for Save the Children. "The structured play areas at the shelters allow kids to be kids again. Children can make new friends, play and begin to recover and heal after their lives were turned upside down."
Save the Children has operated the Child-Friendly Spaces program in five shelters and will be working with the Red Cross in upcoming days to provide additional support for kids affected by the flooding.
Additionally, Save the Children hosted a family fun night for shelter residents and Red Cross volunteers at the City of Greeley Recreation Center on Saturday evening, Sept. 21. Fifty children and their parents took part in a night of food, fun activities and entertainment. Local businesses donated face paints, bouncy castles, toys, a cotton candy machine and popcorn. Save the Children has worked with the families at the shelter for the past week, and the event was held to highlight the strong sense of community that has developed during that time.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
The American Red Cross provides disaster assistance free of charge and is supported by public donations. Donations can be made by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, visiting www.redcross.org, contacting your local Red Cross chapter, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. All donations are tax deductible.