Peer-to-Peer Preparedness: Entry to the FEMA Preparedness Challenge

Post and Challenge Entry by: Kim Stephens and Scott Reuter

Problem: Engaging teens with emergency preparedness information.

High school students often do not concern themselves with thoughts of disaster preparedness, unless of course, they have personally lived through one. The problem of reaching teens with emergency preparedness information can be addressed by making the content relevant and personal to their lives: But how?

Teens sharing stories about living through or preparing for an imminent disaster would encourage others, at a minimum, to think about hazards in their area, and at best, to help and encourage their families to prepare for those hazards.  The process of story-sharing would take advantage of the fact that teens seem to be most interested in information/content that comes from other teens. Kids have stories to tell: teens living in a high hurricane-risk area would have mostly likely evacuated or prepared to evacuate at some point in their lives, or kids in an earthquake regions might have experienced tremors and had to attach bookshelves to their walls.

But how do we encourage kids to share these stories in a relevant and somewhat structured way that will be seen by other teens as “cool”?

Solution: Create a scholarship contest to foster the development of student-produced disaster preparedness information in a multi-media format for national distribution.

Contest Objective: 1. Reach as many teens as possible with student-created content.

Contest Objective  2: To unleash student creativity. (Similar to how this FEMA Challenge has unleashed citizen creativity)

Contest Concept:

1. Use existing media outlets in schools, such as Channel One News or similar channel designed for high school distribution, to both announce the contest and the end result. This site, in particular, has many benefits:

  • It already has age-appropriate information, interactive games and quizzes about natural disasters.
  • The site has a “You Tell It” section for students to submit videos.
  • The site also has a large social media fan base of students with over 47,000 fans on their facebook page.
  • There is information on disasters and lesson plans for teachers.

2. Students would be encouraged to submit a video to the “you-tell-it” section.  The video would be judged on several criteria, such as:

  • Does the video help others understand what it’s like to be in a disaster?
  • Does the video show others how to prepare for a similar disaster?
  • Does the video help create awareness that training for disasters makes you more likely to take actions that can save your life – and others?

However, it should be noted: The more criteria the more stifling, therefore, standards will need to be carefully crafted.

3. Include popularity of video as 50% of the score. This is important for several reasons:

  • If students need others to view the video in order to win, they will pass the URL to their peers through existing social networks, their personal facebook pages, YouTube, twitter, etc.
  • Although there is no guarantee that the videos will go viral, there is a much greater chance of widespread viewership if popular vote is part of the award equation.

4. Award the school that wins the contest with scholarship funds that will be parceled out by the school’s administration. This will:

  • encourage schools to participate and encourage them to help students with the project.
  • allow for the schools to boast about the result (vs. an individual) and therefore, encourage even more viewership.
  • allow for easier dissemination of the award.

We’ll see how well this entry does in the contest. If it doesn’t win, I still believe it is a good concept that should be pursued.


2 responses to “Peer-to-Peer Preparedness: Entry to the FEMA Preparedness Challenge

  1. Where will the students go to find the content they need?

  2. Of course working with the local office of emergency management will be a plus with regard to finding more technical content. The stories should be based on their own experiences.

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