Since 2011, the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) has hosted the annual Texas Youth Preparedness Camp to engage students in local emergency preparedness efforts. Approximately 50 students from teams across the state of Texas gather each year to complete the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training. Participants (including adult sponsors) receive a full 20-hour CERT training that includes a certificate of completion. Teams develop a community action plan and acquire the leadership skills needed to address emergency preparedness in their schools and/or communities when they return home.
Since 2016, the states within Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VI have sent student and adult representatives to both attend the Texas Youth Preparedness Camp and to make plans to replicate the event in Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Why Youth Preparedness
The Texas School Safety Center has partnered with the FEMA, the Red Cross, and the U.S. Department of Education to promote youth preparedness strategies.
The TxSSC was among the invitees from across the country to attend FEMA’s unveiling of a groundbreaking youth preparedness initiative. Approximately 40 partners attended the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education: Empowering, Educating and Building Resilience unveiling in Washington, D.C. The launch introduced strategies to empower youth to engage their families and communities in disaster readiness, response, and recovery and to become better prepared citizens of today and tomorrow. The TxSSC has since affirmed this National Strategy. To read more on the National Strategy, visit https://www.ready.gov/.
Youth Preparedness Camp is designed and delivered using a youth-led, adult-assisted model where students are essentially the decision makers and the adults act in a supportive role. Young people are often faced with problems and situations that they could solve independently if they have support from adults to overcome roadblocks such as funding, liability issues, and bureaucracy within schools and local government agencies. The goal is to build a partnership that will ensure the successful implementation of their action plans upon returning home.
Each year, the Texas School Safety Center receives more than forty team applications to attend camp demonstrating that the desire and the need exist for schools and communities to begin implementing youth preparedness trainings on a local level.
Youth Preparedness Camp instructs students in the CERT Basic Training which includes:
- Disaster Preparedness
- Fire Safety
- Disaster Medical Operations
- Search and Rescue
- Disaster Psychology
- CERT Organization (ICS)
The camp agenda allows for ample opportunity to implement the classroom learning portions through hands-on exercises and activities to ensure proficiency in the lessons presented. In addition, participants leave with a certificate of completion after demonstrating their competence in implementing the training materials during a staged scenario exercise at the end of camp.
While other emergency preparedness training options are available, CERT was chosen as an established curriculum and will be referenced throughout the toolkit as the training standard. Once the students have completed the CERT training they are equally qualified as their adult counterparts to join their local CERT and put their training to use.
This toolkit will walk a community or school through the steps of preparing to host an event in your own area. It will overview key planning considerations, detail agenda items and options, and cover the training elements that have made the statewide Youth Preparedness Camp a success. An extensive set of resources accompanies each section of the toolkit.