Girl Scouts use puppets to impart disaster preparedness

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Disaster puppet Ready Rabbit shares tips with Girl Scout Junior Eleni Kandas during a presentation at Rock Creek Elementary School on Thursday, April 24.If Cool Cat, Disaster Dog or Ready Rabbit have anything to say about it, children should be prepared — not scared — in the event of fires, earthquakes, bad weather and other emergencies at school and at home.

With the assistance of Girl Scout Juniors from Troop 40287 at Rock Creek Elementary School on Thursday, April 24, the animal puppets known collectively as the Preparedness Pals imparted tips to kindergartners on how to stay safe and calm if they smell smoke, see flames, are in a blizzard or feel the earth move under their feet. The scouts, who trained with officials from the American Red Cross’ Cascades Region division to focus on safety education, divided into three puppeteer groups to visit different Rock Creek classrooms throughout April.

“They’ve given up their recesses to come teach class,” noted Emma Reim, youth coordinator for the local Red Cross chapter. “It’s a good way to teach preparedness (by training) for fires, earthquakes and winter weather.”

As McKenzie Martin, a Rock Creek fifth-grader, explained, Disaster Dog focuses on earthquakes, Cool Cat on fire safety and Ready Rabbit on winter weather preparedness.

“If there’s an earthquake, you don’t want to be by power lines, chimneys, trees or windows,” she explained. “You want to go under a table.”

Cool Cat explained how to “stop, drop and roll” if your clothes catch fire and cover your face in the event of smoke.

“An earthquake is the scariest,” Martin noted.

Her fellow Girl Scout Emma Legault put it succinctly.

“You can run away from a fire,” she said. “An earthquake, you can’t really run away from.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rock Creek Elementary School kindergartners pet Ready Rabbit, the designated expert on winter weather emergencies, during a puppet presentation by Girl Scout Juniors at the school.

The nine scouts shared information with their junior schoolmates on their way toward earning their Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. Including seven steps focused on team building, going on a journey and putting a plan in motion, the final step on the award ladder is to spread the word.

“It’s good for children to know if there’s an emergency like that,” said Holly Feldhousen, another of the fifth-graders. “The older ones know what to do. It’s nice for them to know stuff so they’ll be prepared.”

Shannon Bauck, leader of Troop 40287, said it’s inspiring to see the girls collaborate to educate younger children while working to fulfill their own scouting and leadership goals.

“This helps the girls work together and collaborate together to help them find each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” she said, explaining how the path to the Bronze Award is achieved. “They had to present their principal idea — using leadership skills, things like setting a schedule — and follow that plan.”

Kindergarten teacher Melinda Rank said her students reacted positively to the presentation.

“They respond really well to the older kids talking to them,” she said. “The Girl Scouts were very supportive and guided (the kids) where to go. They were really good at keeping the kids engaged. It’s a fun way for them to learn.”

Kindergartner Saikapish Sahu, 6, said he would heed Ready Rabbit’s advice when the threat of harsh winter weather returns later this year.

“They’re fun,” he said of the puppets. “He was telling secrets. Now I know you’re supposed to get an (emergency) kit ready for winter.”

Anushka Agate, 6, was partial to Disaster Dog and his confidential earthquake tips, but liked all the puppets.

“They tell us secrets,” she TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rock Creek Elementary School kindergartners give a thumbs up to proper emergency preparedness during a Girl Scout presentation on fires, earthquakes and winter emergency preparedness at the school.

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