Prepared Not Scared: Program helps weather-conscious children
Published 12:15 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017
LAPLACE — When a tornado tore through LaPlace in February of 2016, Sondra Crochet and Tommy Cooper huddled in a bathroom with their three daughters, Adalyn, Adele and Adison Cooper.
Although their shed and cars were destroyed and their home suffered only minor damage, the harm done to the children’s psyche was significant.
“The little one, Adalyn, more so than the other two,” Crochet said of her now 6-year-old daughter. “She would be worried every time it rained. Thunder would scare her.”
After attending a new preventive education series presented by Child Advocacy Services, Adalyn is a little less anxious.
Angela Golden, prevention services coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center, launched the new “Prepared Not Scared” campaign at the St. John the Baptist Parish Central Library. The program is designed to help children and families deal with the anxiety that can arise in severe weather situations.
Whether it’s a tornado, like the one that struck LaPlace, flooding, hurricanes or just a scary afternoon thunderstorm storm, the CAC is here to help children and families cope.
“We want kids to be prepared for it and not caught off guard,” Golden said. “A lot of times as adults, we know what’s happening. We’ve been dealing with hurricanes all our lives, so we kind of know how to prepare for them, but we don’t think about our children. They just kind of come along with us. They hear the news. They hear the alerts. You want to prepare them for what’s about to happen so they know, so they can get their things together and be prepared.”
Golden gets help from the program’s mascot, Sunny the turtle.
“Sunny, with his shell, wherever he goes he has his home with him,” Golden explained. “As long as you are safe and you have your family, it’s OK. He’s happy in every situation because he’s safe and he’s talking about it.”
Golden said the CAC first came up with the “Prepared not Scared” initiative after Hurricane Katrina left so many children (and adults) traumatized.
“Then recently, with the tornado out here and everything else that’s been happening, we decided we needed to create a new resource that reflected all of the weather issues we’ve been having,” Golden said. “So, we have floods, hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes. We even have what to do in a fire situation.”
The presentation is geared toward children 7 to 10 years old, but can to tailored to younger or older children as necessary. It includes a slide show, coloring activities and a child-friendly pamphlet that explains what will happen in different types of weather situations.
A main tenant of the program is to get children involved.
“We talk about what you may need to bring with you,” Golden explained.
“The kids suggest food and toys and that’s OK. A comfort item is definitely necessary, but we’re preparing them to grab clothes, we know we need shoes. Instead of pushing them to the side, we’re making them a part of that and also, we’re addressing their feelings. That’s another big part of the resource.”
Prepared not Scared is just one of several resources and trainings available from the CAC.
Other programs include “Safe Dates,” a nine-session program that deals with attitudes and behaviors associated with dating abuse and violence; “Not a Number,” an interactive program designed to teach youths how to protect themselves from human trafficking and exploitation; “Care-ageous Kids,” designed to help children develop positive social skills that will reduce their likelihood of perpetration; “ACEs,” which helps adults understand the long term effects of adverse childhood experiences; “Don’t Shake Take a Break,” designed to educate and reduce Shaken Baby Syndrome; and “Powerful Paws,” which includes a professionally trained dog named Hayward, who is used to help comfort and provide comfort to children.
All are free, except for the “Stewards of Children” training for adults, which includes a workbook is a credited course for social work students.
Golden said her team can produce a training program for virtually any subject or find resources for those in need.
Parents and schools are always welcome to call upon the CAC team, which covers St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, East Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and West Feliciana parishes.
“Anything that anyone has a need for in reference to children and families, we provide training for,” Golden said. “Anything that helps a family deal with an issue they may face, that’s where we come in. We want them to call us.”
Crochet said she is happy she took her three girls to the presentation.
“It was great,” she said.
“They were talking about it like you would do in a therapy session. It was good to have them talking about it. I believe it helped (Adalyn). She’s still going to be anxious. She’s always worried, but it definitely helps to have something like that to go to.”
For more information about Child Advocacy Services and the programs it offers, call 985-536-8384 or visit childadv.net.