Are You Ready if Disaster Strikes?

By Sarah Thompson, MA | Posted on November 19, 2014

Tags: Operations

Are you ready? 

Every day we’re doing things to get ready for the day—prepping for programs, organizing plans, ensuring staff has the right tools and equipment to help the day flow smoothly.

But what if disaster strikes? We may not like to think about it, but disaster could strike anywhere at any time. And with winter here now, you cannot help but flashback to all the crazy winter weather-related headlines that dominated last year and wonder what's in store for this season...

Did you know that on a given work day, 69 million children are in child care programs or school, separated from their families? Perhaps many of them are with you, at their local parks and recreation. 

But when the unthinkable happens—will you be ready to protect them?

Partnering with Save the Children, Atlanta Parks and Recreation hosted a Prep Rally to help ensure that their kids will be ready to weather any storm that may come their way. Filled with engaging games and activities like the Disaster Supplies Relay and the Dance Party Game, the Prep Rally is Save the Children’s emergency preparedness program that teaches the basics of getting ready for disasters


Lassie joins the disaster supplies relay race during the Pep Rally 


The turnkey curriculum makes preparing fun and practical covering four areas

1. Recognizing Risks

2. Planning Ahead

3. Gathering Wise Supplies

4. During Disaster


The message: disasters can be scary, but there are simple things that we can do so that we can keep ourselves and our families safe.


Blog-Are-You-Ready-if-Disaster-Strikes-Pep-Rally-Fun Cheers of 150 after-school students from Martin Luther King Jr., Gilbert House and South Bend echoed throughout the gym at the ML King Center of Hope program, encouraging each other to “Get Ready! Get Safe!” After talking about weather warnings, evacuation and shelter-in-place plans,  Save the Children ambassador, and the beloved four-legged American icon, Lassie joined in on the fun, helping children choose the items that they should include in a disaster supplies kit during a relay race.


 “Teaming up with Save the Children and its ambassador, Lassie to host a Prep Rally was a great opportunity for the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation to educate youth on how they can help their families prepare for disasters,” said Annika Holder, Executive Director, City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation. “It was truly an honor to be one of the first parks and recreation programs to engage youth in a new, creative way that covered the basics of disasters through cheers, discussion and interactive games.”


The event concluded with everyone taking a preparedness pledge, in which children commit to talking to their families about making an emergency plan. Each student took home a disaster checklist to share with their parents and caregivers. 


 “We know that parks and recreation professionals are on the front lines of protecting children every day,” said Erin Bradshaw, Senior Director of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. “Through the Prep Rally and our Get Ready Get Safe initiative, we hope to provide accessible tools that they can make their own as they become champions for children’s safety in their own communities.”


The best thing about the Prep Rally is the flexible format. It can be shaped to meet the specific needs of any program and community.   

 In what ways are you preparing for potential disasters in your community? Share in the comments below or tweet us @NRPA_News.


Editor’s Note: You can download the Prep Rally Kit, including the leader guide and activity books, for free from Save the Children. 


Sarah Thompson, MA,  is the associate director of marketing and communications for U.S. Programs at Save the Children USA. She presented the session “Operation Rescue Response – Parks and Recreation Dealing with Disasters,” at the 2014 NRPA Annual Conference.