University of Illinois Extension
Disaster Resources - University of Illinois Extension

Children, Stress, and Natural Disasters:
School Activities for Children

Service Projects

Helping others or contributing to disaster recovery or preparedness work in meaningful ways can be a good way to help overcome feelings of helplessness or frustration that is common among disaster victims. Depending on their ages, there are a variety of things students can do to actively contribute to their family, school, and community. For example, teachers could:

  • Conduct a class discussion or support a class project on how students might contribute to a community recovery or preparedness effort. It is important to help them develop concrete and realistic ways to be of assistance. Depending on their age, try as much as possible to have them come up with ideas and/or work at organizing the effort so that it is "their" project.
    For example, eighth graders in Austin Middle School (Texas) surveyed residents who would might additional help in the event the town needed to be evacuated because of flood. They designed a special placard that residents could place into their windows if they needed special assistance to evacuate.
  • Students might also perform some kind of service for younger children in their school, or in area childcare facilities. For example, they could create and perform puppet plays on the themes of coping with disaster.
  • Finally, students can organize projects to support students or communities in other areas who might have been struck by disaster. For example, using lessons learned from their own experience of being helped, students can figure out ways of helping that would be most useful for others their age.

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