UNICEF Netherlands presented tips for parents on involving their kids at various government-hosted community evenings and the Hurricane Expo.

 

PHILIPSBURG--The importance of involving children in exercises during hurricane season is the main message that UNICEF Netherlands (NL) has been sharing in St. Maarten during this hurricane season.

  The children’s rights organisation has been conducting an awareness campaign with the support of the Netherlands Red Cross since May 1.

  The campaign so far has included presentations by UNICEF NL at various government-hosted community evenings, the hurricane expo, a video-workshop and competition, dissemination of hurricane preparedness information brochures, as well as wider media outreach, it was stated in a press release on Friday.

  “Parents often think that kids can’t or shouldn’t be involved with hurricane preparations, however, it’s actually very important as it helps kids be prepared and feel safer,” says UNICEF community mobiliser Suzette Moses-Burton.

  “Involving your kids can be as simple as talking to them about hurricane season, taking them shopping for hurricane supplies, helping prepare the house, such as taking the plants inside in case of a storm, and discussing the plan of action in case of emergency,” she adds.

  Over the last year, UNICEF Netherlands has worked closely with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) to take much-needed steps towards improving the safety of children in case of emergencies with an emphasis on hurricane season preparedness.

 

School safety plans

  Twenty-three primary and secondary schools on St. Maarten have completed their School Safety Plans ahead of the 2019 hurricane season. UNICEF Netherlands provided technical support and guidance to the schools in close cooperation with MECYS and Student Support Services Division (SSSD). The School Safety Plans identify potential emergencies that could happen in the school and outline preparedness and response actions to be taken within the school.

  In connection to these plans, each school assigned a Safety and Emergency Team (SET). The team members support the implementation of the School Safety Plans and mobilise students and staff in case of an emergency, as well as help get the school back on track in the aftermath of an emergency.

 

Return to happiness

  Recently UNICEF, in collaboration with SSSD facilitated a “Return To Happiness” (RTH) refresher course. The refresher was a follow-up to the extensive RTH trainings held last year involving hundreds of participants from various schools and organisations that work closely with children.

  RTH is a method for psychosocial support to children aged 4 to 12 years. The method utilises multiple creative tools such as drawing, singing, puppetry and more, to provide children the opportunity to share their stories in order to express their thoughts and feelings. In addition to the trainings, each school received an “RTH kit,” which contains all the needed supplies to properly implement RTH.

 

Too Cool To Loot

  The anti-looting awareness campaign called “Too COOL To Loot” (TCTL) has continued its efforts to address the issue of looting in a positive way within the community, especially as it relates to youngsters. Some of the actions that have been ongoing are school-visits, an art-competition, debate and presentations.

  Leading up to hurricane season the TCTL team collaborated with The Waste Factory to add an anti-littering message to the campaign through creative workshops geared towards adolescents. In the coming weeks a mural will be fashioned – inspired by students of various high schools designs created during workshops.

 

Continued efforts

  Other ongoing activities include community-based child protection mapping activities, strengthening the child protection system as well as completing an extensive situation analysis regarding the rights of children on St. Maarten.

  “We would like to congratulate the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport for their excellent achievements. We are proud to work together with the St. Maarten government to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and see concrete results of our collaboration,” says Marieke Roelfsema of UNICEF Netherlands.

  UNICEF Netherlands and St. Maarten team-members wish all students, educators and parents, a fruitful and safe school year. To follow UNICEF Netherlands activities in St. Maarten: Facebook/unicefsxm