Choices for Youth’s (CFY) RallyForward (RF) program is a supportive housing program that assists vulnerable youth by providing housing and one-on-one support to help them obtain the skills they need to live independently. RF holds the safety of its youth program participants in the highest regard. They recently organized an emergency preparedness group as part of their Saturday recreation programming. This seminar aimed to educate the youth about emergency preparedness topics and assist them in preparing their own at-home emergency preparedness kits ahead of Winter.
The RF program currently supports sixteen young people living in CFY housing units and another ten young people living independently. RF has always incorporated emergency preparedness policies and procedures into its homes and programming. Many of the youth engaged in RF programming have difficulties with planning and preparedness, and the RF team ensures they have the support they need when they need it. Due to a number of factors, however, chief among them being NL’s unpredictable weather, the RF team also must ensure that the young people they work with have the necessary knowledge and resources available to them in the event of an emergency that prevents RF team members from connecting with them – most notably winter storms that could disrupt transportation and communication.
The emergency preparedness seminar was youth-led, like all RF recreational programming. The RF team consulted with some of their youth participants and determined that there was interest in learning about emergency preparedness. The team picked up items from a general list and then during the group the youth shared what other items they would like to see included. For example, the youth identified portable power banks for charging cell phones as an item of major importance to them, so that they can keep in contact with family and other supports. Involving the RF youth in the planning process also got them thinking about what they would do, what they would need, and who they would reach out to in an emergency situation where RF staff were, through no fault of their own, unable to lend their aid. For example, a situation like 2020’s Snowmaggedon could quickly become dire for these young people without the appropriate planning, procedures, and knowledge.
The seminar began with a video on emergency preparedness best practices which spurred a discussion about what the RF youth would do in the event of an emergency. Following the discussion, the youth assembled their emergency preparedness kits using the provided materials. There were plenty of additional opportunities to learn about emergency preparedness as the youth assembled their kits. Seeing the items provided made the young people think about what other things they would want on hand during an emergency, such as non-perishable food and extra water reserves.
The emergency preparedness kits contained a number of valuable resources that would give the young people comfort and peace of mind in the event of an emergency, including light sources such as flashlights and headlamps, radios, first aid supplies, emergency contact lists, and even items like playing cards, which can provide some much-needed fun and the opportunity for a mental health break during a stressful situation.
The process of discussing emergency preparedness and making the kits gave the RF program participants a great base on which to build their knowledge of emergency preparedness and, perhaps most importantly, gave them the confidence that comes from knowing that, should an emergency situation arise, they will now have some level of control over the situation. This is a great example of the kind of work that the RF team is doing every day to help young people take control of their lives and unlock the potential within themselves.
The RallyForward program is always in need of donated items for emergency preparedness kits and other purposes. Donations of items such as headlamps and flashlights, battery-operated radios, portable power banks, and batteries are all greatly appreciated as these are not items that CFY typically receives. If you would like to donate any of the needed items listed above, they can be dropped off at our Main Office at 261 Duckworth Street between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
Written by Chris Morris