SW Texas Conference Offers Children's Disaster Services Course

8/8/2012

One of the nation's premier training courses in caring for children after disasters will come to Central Texas in September.

The "Children's Disaster Services" course -- considered the national "gold standard" for its type -- is taught by the Church of the Brethren's Brethren Disaster Ministries, and will be hosted by the First united Methodist Church in Johnson City Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8.

The course includes a look at how disasters work, how people respond to them, particularly how children respond to them, and how to help children cope with the aftermath of catastrophic incidents. Responders typically structure coping and recovery efforts for adults, but children are not just short adults; children have different concerns and needs in high-stress situations, and need to be addressed differently.

The organizers hope trainees will be interested enough to sign up as volunteers when Brethren Disaster Ministries is asked to set up childcare centers in disaster shelters, but there is no obligation for students to make any commitment. 

Students will learn valuable techniques for helping children deal with any high-stress situation. It may be as great as a hurricane or the death of a parent, or as small as having to move away from friends or the loss of a pet. The key, as students will learn, is that a disaster is in eyes of the child...whether an adult would consider it a catastrophe or not. The same techniques will help students help children in their own families as well as emergency shelters.

An unusual feature of the course is that it lasts 26 hours -- straight through -- because the Friday night is spent in a simulated disaster shelter in the church so students will understand the environment the children are living in. Meals also are typical of fare that might be provided in a shelter.

The charge for the training, including "room and board", course materials and the instructors' expenses, is $45.

For more information or to register, call Angie at 830-868-0808.