“Proper preparation prevents poor performance” is often heard around the Marine Corps for a variety of reasons. For families, the adage can also apply in emergency situations.

The Camp Lejeune - New River School Liaison Office hosted the American Red Cross and The FOCUS Project at their office on Brewster Boulevard for the Pillowcase Project, Jan. 6.

The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross in Southeast Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina when Kay Wilkins, Southeast Louisiana Red Cross regional executive, had learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated for Katrtina.

This inspired Kay and her team to work with an art therapist to create a program in which children living in makeshift communities across New Orleans decorated pillowcases as emergency supply kits. From there, it has been widely adapted throughout the United States.

For home school children, the event doubled as a way to learn how to stay safe in emergencies such as house fires or hurricanes that can take place in their communities. It also teaches coping skills to help kids stay calm.

“My favorite part was when I learned about fire safety,” said 9-year-old Eva Tagaloa, whose father is a U.S. Navy Chaplain. “I knew blocking the bottom of the door was to keep smoke out, but I did not know it is also so fireman know that someone is in that room.”

The program builds confidence through hands-on activities. It also asks kids to use their knowledge to act as advocates for emergency preparedness in their homes and communities.

“It is important for families to have a safety plan and an emergency escape plan that the kids know,” said 12-year-old Patrick Callahan. “That way if something happens, kids will know what they are supposed to do and hopefully no one will get hurt.”

Younger students worked with The FOCUS Group on how to regulate their emotions. They learned about their emotional thermometer and were taught to associate the changing of their emotions to that of the rising of temperature.

More information on upcoming events can be found at https://www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/schools/.