If you have young children at home, you may be wondering how to explain the recent earthquake and subsequent human suffering in Haiti to your children. You may also wonder how your children or your classroom can get involved with the relief effort. This article will highlight a few, simple ways to engage children in sending aid, compassion, and hope to others in need.
These are great group projects for kids in school groups, church groups, or other local community groups. Haitian children will be in need for many months so these projects can be ongoing throughout the school year.
Step One: Explaining Natural Disasters to Children
One of the first steps in sending relief aid is getting children to understand the underlying need. Natural disasters are scary and many children wonder if the same event will happen to them.
For older children, teach them the science behind earthquakes – why they happen, how they happen – so the children will have a basic understanding. For younger children, explain about earth trembles by relating it to something familiar. Finally, for all children, use this opportunity to teach basic earthquake safety and preparedness.
Step Two: Creating Earthquake Relief Kits and School Supply Kits for Haitian Children
Once children understand that earthquakes have the potential to cause harm to other people, they are usually very eager to help. Put little hands to good use by creating relief kits and school supply kits for Haitian children.
Relief kits contain basic personal hygiene supplies such as water, batteries, first aid supplies, blanket, food, soap, bandages, mosquito nets, hard candy, toothbrush and toothpaste, diapers, towels, shampoo.
School supply kits will help Haitian children continue with an education during this difficult time: paper, pencils, pens, erasers, folders, crayons, stickers.
Step Three: Draw a Picture, Bring a Smile
Children love drawing pictures, especially to bring a smile to others. For younger children who may not be able to help pack relief boxes or school kits, ask them to create simple colored drawings to include with each kit. This single gesture of kindness can create a healing spirit, and can foster a lifetime commitment to helping others in your child.
Step Four: Finding an Organization to Distribute your Kits to Haitian Children
If you are not already working with a charitable organization, check with local area churches. Your church or community group may have an exact list of items needed for the relief kits. There are some national and international organizations that supply kits such as UNICEF.
Bonus Step Five: Making a Comfort Blanket
Another creative group project that you can make with your children or classroom is a simple, handmade blanket.
Purchase some cream colored cotton fabric and cut into 6×6 inch squares. Use fabric paints and let each child in your classroom or group decorate one square.
Sew 4 squares to form a row, using a ¼ inch seam allowance. Make 5 rows. Sew them together to form the top of the blanket. Purchase enough backing and batting material so that you have an extra 2 or 3 inches peeking out from under the blanket top. Layer the blanket top, batting, and backing together and pin. Sew through all layers. Finish the edges using a traditional quilt binding or trim the batting flush with the top, fold the backing towards the front with raw edges tucked under, and sew closed.