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An urgent call for help.

Due to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, affecting thousands of schoolchildren in the Gulf Coast region of the United States, I have decided to devote this column to ways ACEI Branches can help these children. Such total devastation will require sustained long-term material and emotional help.

First, children need the basics: food, clean water, clothes, and shelter. Next, children will need school supplies, both personal supplies and supplies for the makeshift schools they will eventually attend. Other students may be welcomed into schools far from home. In a very practical sense, ACEI Branches must consider how to contribute to the education of the displaced students.

After survival, the most pressing need of the children is emotional. Children who have lived through the hurricane and its aftermath have experienced unimaginable events; their lives have been shattered as they saw death and destruction firsthand. Children from states and countries far from Katrina's wrath have seen the televised pictures and have heard hushed conversations not meant for their ears about this and other disasters. Hurricane Katrina may conjure up painful memories of other weather-related disasters that have occurred recently around the world. Therefore, all children will need emotional support, in varying degrees. The following sites provide information for helping children in these circumstances: the ACEI site (www.acei.org), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org) and American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org).

The AACAP recommends the following when communicating with children after a disaster:

* Let the child talk. Often, a child will want to repeat his or her thoughts and experiences.

* Give honest answers suitable for the child's age.

* Respect the child's comments; do not try to minimize what the child is telling you.

* Find alternative ways to let a child express his or her thoughts, including art, writing, and play.

* Let the child know that good people are helping. Stress the good deeds of others.

* Monitor the information the child receives through television and print sources.

The AAP also offers advice for communicating with children. This organization includes information on older children, who may internalize their feelings. Good luck to you all as you work to seek ways to meet children's needs. Please send me ideas on the ways your Branches plan to help schoolchildren and I will include them in our next Exchange article.

--Kerry Holmes, Chair, Program Development Committee kholmes@olemiss.edu
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Title Annotation:Association for Childhood Education International's helping children those affected by Hurricane Katrina
Author:Holmes, Kerry
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2005
Words:397
Previous Article:ACEI outstanding member service award.
Next Article:Rural outreach and early childhood professional development.
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