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In the latest edition

Search for a kind stranger

The note left for Ellie Farnfield after she experienced a seizure on a train© Info"Eleanor. I hope by the time you read this you are feeling better. You had a seizure on the train and I took you off." So begins a note that Ellie Farnfield, a 27 year old student, found when she woke after an epileptic episode.

With the message was a coffee and the cash for a taxi, provided by a fellow passenger.

Talk about the actions of the mystery passenger, Tom. Do they demonstrate unusual kindness? Or are they the kind of considerations many people would show? The message also said that Ellie was left with train staff, medical aid was on its way and that people from the contact list in her phone had been contacted. Would young people have thought to arrange these things? How much difference does this extra thoughtfulness make? How might Ellie have felt when she came around and saw this message?

Many commented that the story "restored their faith in humanity". What experiences might cause someone to lose and/or regain such faith? Talk about reasons why passers-by might or might not help when someone has a seizure. Would young people know what to do? Watch a short video showing how to help someone who is having a seizure.

Ebola and recovery

The handprints of Ebola Survivors on a wall outside the Bong County Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia © InfoPauline Cafferkey, a nurse who contracted Ebola while working in a clinic in Sierra Leone, was readmitted to hospital last month with complications following the virus. Doctors now say she has a form of meningitis caused by the infection.

Discuss young people's reactions to the news. Who did they think of first - Pauline herself, her family and friends or the wider community?

Medical experts now know that the virus may persist in particular sites in the bodies of a small proportion of survivors. Sites include the inside of the eye, semen, the placenta and breast milk. Symptoms can include loss of vision and, in Pauline Cafferkey's case, inflammation of the meninges which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Discuss how this knowledge might affect other Ebola survivors. How might it alter their thinking about their recovery, their feelings about the future? Is there a risk that the stigma against people with Ebola might be reignited? If you were devising an education campaign for communities in West Africa to reduce the chance of stigma towards Ebola survivors what message would you want to get across?

Name that storm

A storm surges at Freshwater bay on the Isle of Wight© Info

A gale called Abigail could soon be heading this way. Following that, Barney, Clodagh and Desmond will be sweeping in from the Atlantic. Do young people know why?

The Met Office and Met Eireann, the Irish meteorological service, have begun naming severe weather storms. Autumn and winter storms from the north Atlantic often make landfall on the shores of Ireland or the UK. Forecasters hope that naming severe storms will help raise awareness and encourage people to prepare and respond to the threat.

Discuss the thinking behind naming storms. The idea is to focus people's minds, make them more aware and therefore better prepared. Names can be easier to remember and avoid confusion when different storms are blowing up at the same time. The practice has worked elsewhere in the world. Who thinks it can make a difference in the UK and Ireland?

List the practical actions that young people and their families could take to prepare for an oncoming storm. Stimulate ideas by mentioning the impacts such as uprooted trees, blown branches, roof and chimney damage, downed power-lines causing outages, flooding, scattered garden furniture and fences.

Previous editions

Candle-lit vigil

People take part in candle light vigil following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg in Oregon © Info

In the aftermath of fatal shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, USA, local people held candle-lit vigils to mark their loss. Discuss why.

Does it help people to see and comfort each other, to feel they are not alone? Can the special atmosphere transcend the horror and awfulness? People deal with shocking events in different ways. If someone said they didn't want to attend a vigil, what would you say to them?

Speakers stressed that they are a strong community. Discuss what this means. What qualities make communities and individuals strong?

Images of the mass vigil in the park, and of small groups of grieving students, appeared around the world. Imagine you were a photo-journalist covering the event. What would you say to capture the mood? How would you avoid being intrusive?

At least one speaker asked that the crowd not mention the name of the alleged gunman who died, along with nine others. Others wanted the shooter and his parents to be included in the community's thoughts. Discuss and explore the thinking on both sides.

When impacts vary

Jorge Florez pushes Antonio Romero out of a flooded street on September 29 2015 in Miami Beach Florida© Info

What do the following regions have in common: north-east Japan, southern France, Miami, South Carolina and Sierra Leone?

The answer is ‘floods’. Late summer and early autumn saw communities worldwide hit by torrential rains, storms and flash floods. Which floods did young people hear about? What details or images can they recall?

Discuss how floods, and other extreme weather events, can affect people differently. If flood levels rise to waist height within minutes, how might that affect a wheelchair user? What could you do to help someone in need?

Residents of a tower block might be safe from rising water but trapped by lifts that don't work. How could you check that elderly neighbours are okay? Identify places in your area where people might need more community support in a crisis.

Walking, texting and hurt pride

Man texting on phone© Info

Who has had a mishap while using a smartphone? Who thinks walking into lamp posts or other objects is a cause for concern for texters on the move? What risks can young people identify for people who are looking at their phones rather than where they are going?

Journalists periodically write stories about accidents caused by smartphone users not looking where they're going. They're often quite jokey. Why is this, when some accidents are fatal and tragic?

Talk about how it might feel to walk into or fall over something while texting. How do you handle feeling a bit foolish? What if you were injured? Would you want attention and concern from others, or for everyone to pretend it never happened?

Think about how you can stay safe while using phones outdoors. Which environments do you need to be particularly alert in, such as near traffic or rail tracks? Consider various potential hazards, including injury, theft or dropping the phone. Who knows how to report their phone lost or stolen?

Start later, learn better?

Boy falling asleep at desk© Info

If the school day started later, and you could sleep longer in the morning, would your learning performance improve? A sleep expert thinks so. Dr Paul Kelley believes starting too early deprives children and young people of vital sleep, affecting learning and health. Who agrees? 

Researchers are planning a trial to test the theory. Some 14-16 year olds will start school at 10am. Some will start at normal time and receive ‘sleep education’. Some will simply continue as normal. Some will start later as well as receive ‘sleep education’. Which group do you think will cope with school and personal life the best? Why? 

Discuss the advice likely to be part of sleep education - such as daytime exercise and not using phones and computers in the bedroom. Think of things that aren’t safe to do when you’re tired. Why is it often harder to cope when you’re weary? Are you more likely to take risks if you’re tired?

Jailed for anti-social 999 calls

Young man dialling 999© Info

A man in Northern Ireland was jailed this month after repeatedly dialling 999 when there was no emergency. The judge told him he was a nuisance and gave him a four-month sentence for breaching an anti-social behaviour order. The 24 year old has a history of making confused and outrageous calls to the emergency services, sometimes pretending to be rapper Nicki Minaj.

Discuss how the authorities respond to people who misuse the 999 system. What options do they have to prevent repeated nuisance calls? Why is it important to stop them? What implications might it have on people in real emergency situations? 

Some unnecessary 999 calls sound like jokes - callers complaining that their pizza has no topping or they've been chased by a seagull. How would students explain to someone how to decide if a problem is really an emergency? Discuss the range of medical problems that are important, but which are not emergencies. What might be a good alternative to dialling 999? See our brand new resource for ideas.

Emergency evacuations - which country?

An evacuee from the California wildfires sleeps in the Gym on Camp Pendleton© Info

The past week has seen massive rescue efforts to help thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes in different parts of the world. Where?

In one country, nearly 6000 emergency workers helped after a tropical storm swept away entire homes. In another country, a state of emergency was declared when wildfires destroyed homes causing tens of thousands of people to seek safety. Can young people identify the countries? 

The floods were in northeast Japan. The wildfires were in northern California. Discuss what life might be like in temporary shelters. What common experiences might those evacuated have? What feelings might they share? 

Discuss the emergency workers. In Japan helicopters were used to airlift stranded people. In California, firefighters spent long hours battling the flames. What might these two emergencies have in common? How might those involved in helping feel? Who provides food and shelter for emergency and rescue workers? List the back-up such workers might need.

After an earthquake

A sign reading 'Please help us!' is displayed while children play outside their makeshift tents in rice fields in the Philippines

Children play, hours after a destructive earthquake. What do students want to know?

Read the activities >

Build resilience

School students taking part in a workshop

Students and teachers together reflect, explore and experiment with responses to some form of crisis.

Try the quick activities >


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