by Marleen Riewthong, Magnet Coordinator
Mayall Academy of Arts and Technology Magnet

Fifth-grader Martha Saldana creates images on her pillowcase. Saldan has been recognized for her talents and has work hanging the office of Superintendent Michelle King.

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. While events can be frightening for adults, they can be traumatic for children, particularly if they don’t know what to do.

Sponsored by the Walt Disney Company, the Pillowcase Project is a preparedness education course for children grades three to five that teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills. The program leads students through a “learn, practice, share” framework to engage them in disaster preparedness.

The Deaf and hearing-impaired students in Lori Selna’s class at Mayall Academy were fortunate to receive this presentation by Ted Horton-Billard, a Deaf AmeriCorps member fluent in American Sign Language who works with the American Red Cross. Horton-Billard gives presentations on the Pillowcase Projects at elementary schools around, making the program accessible to Deaf and hearing-impaired students.

Students in Mrs. Selna’s class learned the best ways to stay safe and how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during a disaster. Horton-Billard presented a slideshow and shared information about staying safe during emergencies.

Fourth-grader Rey Alvarez shows his work in the preparedness workbook.

Students worked in preparedness workbooks, took a quiz and received a certificate of completion. Students then decorated and personalized their pillowcases with drawings, names, and special writings, providing them tools to assist during an emergency situation. The teacher also received an educational packet to facilitate futher emergency preparedness learning.

“We’re very appreciative of the Pillowcase Project for sending a Deaf role model to my Deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” Slener said. “It provided direct instruction and empowered students to be prepared and understand how to stay safe in emergencies.”


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