I am super excited to share with you that this past weekend, I completed my training to become a Child Disaster Services (CDS) volunteer. What does this mean? When the Red Cross responds to a disaster, they typically set up a shelter. When Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) responds, they set up a day care in the shelter to help the children begin the healing process after the trauma of the disaster.
So what does this day care look like? I don’t want to spoil the awesome training for you, but I will say that it is a typical set up. There is an arts and crafts section, a quiet section with books and stuffed toys, a dramatic play area to allow for role play, and cars/trucks/other toys. One crucial difference is that the items are specifically selected to help the children express themselves and hopefully to begin the healing process. In the pile of cars/trucks, there are emergency vehicles similar to the ones that the children might have seen. There is paint so that the children can express what they have seen if they want to. The selected books often have meaning behind their cute titles and adorable characters. If possible, CDS volunteers try to set up water play or rice for sensory play.
Why is this important for children after trauma? Play is the language of children! It’s how they process the world around them and how they communicate to others about their experiences. After a disaster, parents have a lot to think about. They often have to figure out where the family will live, find a way to replace what was lost, fill out paperwork for a variety of organizations that will help….if they fill out the correct form in the right way. Children’s Disaster Services provides the parents with some time to take care of themselves and they provide the children with a safe place to begin to express themselves.
Check out their site to learn more and find a training near you: http://www.brethren.org/cds/