Akron middle school students present creative ideas for disaster relief

By Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties

January 24, 2020- Two years ago I partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. This year I was asked to partner with the STEM Middle School sixth grade on a project. They use problem-based learning in their school. The problem they were presented with was: How can we, as concerned citizens, work together to assist the emotional needs of survivors of natural disasters and consider:

STEM Ozobot game

  • The structure of the response needed
  • The geographical location
  • The emotional needs of the young people affected

The class of more than 100 learners identified the American Red Cross as an organization that helps with disaster relief but was not sure how we did that. In mid-December I visited the classroom and talked about what we do during disasters, including sheltering, feeding, how we use GIS and mapping to make decisions, how we work with partners as well as how we deal with the emotional part of disaster relief. Their questions were thoughtful, and they had a lot of them.

STEM augmented reality cube

A month later, I was invited back for the presentations. “Impressive” and “amazing” were the words that kept coming out of my mouth. The students were separated into small groups and had been assigned various disaster types — flood, tornado, hurricane, drought, chemical spills, blizzards, etc. The solutions were unique, well thought out and, in some cases, mind blowing. I couldn’t believe sixth graders came up with these things!

STEM Droughtgameboard

One team, assigned drought, developed a board game. This game was fun as well as educational. Through question and answer cards, it detailed how to conserve water or reasons drought happens.

STEMComicBook

A few teams created websites. One for chemical spills addressed how to avoid them, what to do if one affects your home and who can help. They handed out a card with a QR code linking you to their website, and plan on distributing them around Akron so residents can learn more. Another website created a pen pal site for those affected by a disaster so they could connect with someone willing to share their experiences with others. One team created an augmented reality with a 3D cube that when you put your phone or tablet in front of the cube it showed, from all angles, a beach, the fish swimming in the ocean and the sun shining above it. The student said, “Well this is pretty basic.” Far from basic to me!

STEM1

This list can go on and on. I wish I had a few more hours to have walked through every display to hear all their ideas and presentations.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

127 Homes Made Safer in Maple Heights and Akron

Simultaneous Sound the Alarm Events Held Last Saturday

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

More than 300 smoke alarms were installed in homes last Saturday as the American Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign hit the halfway point. The nationwide effort to install 100,000 smoke alarms across the country, and to save lives, began on April 28. The final Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in Northeast Ohio takes place this Saturday in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.

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Sound the Alarm in Maple Heights, 5/5/18

On Saturday, May 5, 204 alarms were installed in 77 homes in Maple Heights. In Akron, 50 homes were made safer, as 115 smoke alarms were installed. In addition, volunteers from the Red Cross and a number of civic groups and corporate partners offered residents valuable fire safety information and helped them create escape plans.

Akron Groupshot 5-5-18

Sound the Alarm in Akron, 5/5/18

“The Red Cross and our partners helped save lives by making homes safer and communities more resilient,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “And we are truly grateful for the invaluable partnerships that are either created or strengthened through the Sound the Alarm campaign, with local fire departments, community groups like the VA, and corporations like KeyBank helping families throughout the Region.”

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Volunteers from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, including Director Sue Fuehrer, center, with Regional Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, right

You can see more photos from Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events here.  There is still time to volunteer for one of the three remaining Sound the Alarm events. Join the effort to end home fires in Akron this Thursday, May 10 and Friday, May 11, and in Cleveland on Saturday, May 12. Visit soundthealarm.org/neo for more information.

New Chapters Heed the Call During WWI

Looking back 100 years at the Summit, Portage & Medina Counties Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

April 18, 1917 – The Akron Evening Times ran a story that Kent planned to organize a Red Cross chapter in that community.  A meeting had been held the night before with pastors of Kent churches all in attendance, along with officers of church organizations, lodges and clubs. A follow-up meeting was to take place that week to make sure the people of Kent did their part in the war crisis.

April 20, 1917 – Barberton began work to organize a Red Cross chapter and communicated their desire to do so to the national office in Washington.

By June 1917, Akron had already formed a Red Cross Chapter primarily for men. It was followed by an auxiliary for women on June 30, 1917. Election of officers found Mary Gladwin elected as president of the women’s auxiliary. She had just returned from serving in Serbia the year before. She was also named to the Akron executive committee along with six gentlemen.

At the June 30 meeting, 24 members of Battery B lined up on either side of the church entrance as people arrived. Upon the start of the meeting, they marched into the auditorium and joined in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Wasting no words, Miss Gladwin addressed their first meeting and scolded the Akron citizenry for their lack of patriotism during the recent deployment of troops the prior week as they headed off to Columbus. Her concern centered around the fact that in the “American” residence districts of Akron, there were entire blocks with not one American flag on display.

Centennial SPM-Submarine-U14[1]

November 1, 1917 found the formerly organized chapter in Medina to be doing an excellent job with their sewing.  Unfortunately, a German submarine sank a boat filled with Red Cross supplies. When a local Medina member told District Supervisor Mrs. Harrison Ewing that,  “I don’t think I want to knit if that is to be the fate of my work,” Mrs. Ewing would have nothing of it, responding “Don’t think, KNIT.” That appeared to be the end of that conversation, and discussion turned to lack of yarn and the need to prepare Christmas packets.

By the beginning of December, the yarn had been received and was already knitted into sweaters for the troops.

Girl Red Cross Workers.

Schools were already starting to organize their own chapters, with Seville and Medina schools ready to go. Children all over were raising money for the Red Cross in support of starving children in Belgium and Poland.  One little girl wrote the following:

“Dear Red Cross,

I have earned another dollar for the poor children. I have piled up all the pumpkins, and hauled four loads of chips, and pulled some weeds for the pigs and picked up all the scattered beans. I am eight years old today.”

 

With such dedication from someone so young, how could adults not pitch in?

Today, you can do your part.  Volunteer or donate.  Volunteers can learn more here.

Donating couldn’t be easier. Donate by text, by email, by mail or online. You can even set up a monthly automatic donation.  All five links to giving are here.

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All photos creative commons licensed