Connectional Ministries offers Children's Disaster Services Volunteer Workshop

10/21/2013

When disaster strikes, the people and resources of The United Methodist Church respond quickly to help those in need.

Armed with flood buckets, health kits, food, clothing, and much more, UM volunteers are often some of the first to arrive and last to leave the scene.

But in the midst of crisis, who helps the children?

Often, volunteers are equipped to handle the basic needs of disaster survivors – helping them obtain food, water, and shelter – but children also need safe, friendly, therapeutic environments to heal and cope.

The South Georgia Conference has partnered with the Church of the Brethren to offer a new component to its disaster response focus by offering a 27-hour simulated training in Children's Disaster Services. Participants will learn to provide comfort and encouragement to children by offering the healing young children need in traumatic situations.

“Some people can muck or tarp a house, but it would be scary to put a hammer in my hand,” said Allison Lindsey, associate director of Connectional Ministries. “But put me in a room full of children to play with and minister to and I am in my element. For those with a heart and passion for children, this training will provide skills that will be useful during a chaotic time, whether that be a disaster or life-changing event. What an incredible way to use our gifts and share God's love with little children.”

Scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2 at Cordele First United Methodist Church, the Children's Disaster Services Volunteer Workshop is designed for people who want to serve children in a critical hour of need.

This two-day workshop will include a simulated shelter experience (an overnight stay) and, upon completion of the course, will give participants the opportunity to become certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteers.

The training will be beneficial to all who may come in contact with a distressed child, not just those who have an interest in disaster response. Children can experience personal disasters (when a friend moves away, a pet dies, etc.) at any time, and many of the workshop’s concepts are applicable and appropriate for use at those times as well as after natural disasters.

The workshop utilizes a variety of hands-on activities that participants put into action when caring for children after a disaster. Topics include:

  • shelter simulation (includes an overnight stay)
  • disasters (types and phases)
  • children
    • needs after a disaster
    • how to respond to children in a healing manner
    • the role of play after a disaster
    • how to use play to start recovery in children
  • Children’s Disaster Services Centers
    • set up
    • operation
    • safety procedures
    • volunteers’ roles
  • Self-care onsite and after returning home

“I look forward to experiencing the connection during this training session,” Lindsey said. “We have several people flying in from out of state, from across the Southeast Jurisdiction, and from other denominations. This training will be a great addition to South Georgia’s disaster portfolio, and I thank Rev. David Thompson and Cordele First UMC for partnering with Connectional Ministries and the Conference Outreach team in hosting this event.”