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How Pillows Help Children Cope with Disaster

Posted on July 21, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Much Better than Hiding Under the Bed

Although hiding under pillows from the slew of terrifying murders and tragedies now live streamed on Twitter may not be the best safety strategy for children, Catholic Charities in partnership with Disney has been able to adapt the idea thanks to the cozily-named “Pillowcase Project.” Through it children not only learn how to cope but also how to prepare for sudden disasters.

Children receiving education, social service and recreation support from two of our Catholic Charities Alianza Division programs are packing comfy pillow cases packed with disaster-preparedness power.  Students served by us through the Comprehensive Afterschool Services program at PS 132’s elementary school in Washington Heights last week, for example, received Disney-inspired pillowcases to decorate with their own special flairs.  Then, inside these reassuring cases, they packed emergency supplies including glow sticks, workbooks and emergency phone numbers their families can use.

And the disaster preparedness preparation did not stop there.  Red Cross volunteers encouraged students to identify their symbols of strength, something that made them feel comfortable and strong. Dancing, some said, made them feel strong. Others chose math or basketball and more.  Next they were asked to tap into these feelings, perhaps paint them on their pillowcases as reminders, and emotionally draw on them if an emergency strikes. 

Together they learned, practiced and shared basic coping skills.  And together, some children said, thanks to the Pillowcase Project their world no longer seems so scary.

Learn more about the Pillowcase Project