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In the latest edition


Dignified burial

A community provides dignified burials for people who were killed by soldiers in 1982

Small wooden coffins shouldered by individuals are carried in procession down a mountainside in Quiquil, Guatemala. From first glance at the photograph, it might appear to show a recent natural disaster. But it isn’t.

Discuss with young people what might be happening. Then explain that the villagers are reburying family members who died during armed conflict decades ago. Their remains were recently discovered in unmarked mass graves.

Why are people desperately anxious to know what happened to their missing relatives? What words might describe the uncertainty, the strain of waiting for news that never comes?

Have young people any examples from their own experience of times when waiting was worse than knowing? How did they manage their emotions?

Around 80 people died when Quiquil was attacked on 28 June 1982. It took 33 years before the villagers could provide them a dignified burial. What might have been the mood on that day? How might it feel to now be able to bury their relatives with dignity?

Discuss how people can support each other, even through very long and difficult times.


Volcano eruption

Volcano Mount Ruapehu

Tourists and hikers have been advised not to visit Mount Ruapehu, the New Zealand mountain made famous in the movies of the Lord of the Rings.

Is this because: 

  1. they’re filming a sequel
  2. too many Hobbit fans are wearing away the mountain 
  3. it may be about to erupt?

Full marks to those who answered c). Mount Ruapehu is an active volcano that last erupted in 2007. Experts say temperatures have risen dramatically, and the eruption alert has been raised. If you were planning a trip there, how would you respond? Where would you look for further information?

Molten lava is the best-known hazard from volcanoes. Can young people name others? Rock falls or landslides are very destructive across large distances. Volcanic gases can spread harmful chemicals. How can a visitor assess the risks?

What can young people remember, or research, about the main impact of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010? What was the response? What was the impact on people? How was the situation managed?


Suspect package alert

Exit sign

You go to the toilets in the stadium before a big sporting event. In one of the cubicles, there’s an unusual package. That’s odd, you think. But what do you do?

One option is to do nothing, leave it to someone else. Or you could tell someone—your friends, or just anyone around who seems sympathetic. Or you could tell someone in authority. Who, and where would you find them? Why might it be important to tell someone?

Discuss what happened at Old Trafford during the end-of-season football game between Manchester United and Bournemouth. A suspect package was reported. As a result, 70,000 fans were excavated from the ground and the match postponed. Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion.

Discuss the emotions of others involved that day. As well as the people who reported the package, think of the officials who took the decision to evacuate, the staff who organised the evacuation and the experts who made the device safe. What would help them stay calm and focused — their personality and the way they manage situations or any training they may have had? What strategies could young people use to stay calm in a stressful situation? How would they support or reassure one another?


Previous editions


Haircuts and more

A child gets a haircut at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek Macedonian borderOne thing a child refugee might need is…a haircut. Discuss the photograph, taken at a makeshift camp for migrants near the border between Greece and Macedonia. What insight does it give into everyday life for migrants and refugees?

What might the boy be thinking about? How might he be feeling? Ask young people to write a caption that captures the practical and emotional aspects of the photo.

Haircuts aren’t essential to survival, but without them life might be quite different. In what way? How important is physical appearance to young people? Talk about how personal presentation might affect the way you think about yourself and the way you relate to other people.

Look back over the past week or month and identify some everyday things that have added to your quality of life. Think about going to school, playing games and music, going to the doctors or dentist, having a haircut and so on. How might you cope if one or more of these things wasn’t possible to do anymore? Or if you had to do them in very altered circumstances?


Getting help

Two of three men stranded on the uninhabited island of Fanadik in Micronesia wave life jackets next to palm fronds spelling the word helpThree men swam nearly two miles in darkness when their small boat capsized in the south Pacific sea near Micronesia. Discuss how they might have felt when they found land. Expand on this discussion by considering their concerns when they realised it was a long-deserted island with no communications.

The men were there for three days before rescuers found them. It could have been a lot longer. The island is very remote, and the coastguard directing volunteer ships and rescue teams covers a massive area.

Discuss what the men might have done. What are reasonable and practical ways of increasing their chance of being spotted? They lit fires, created a help sign from palm leaves visible from the air, and waved hi-vis life vests. Do young people think these were good choices? What else might they have thought to do?

Invite inventive ways of making yourself prominent. What if young people were on a moor, a hillside or a boat in open water and needed help? Discuss different ways you could attract attention and get help in a variety of scenarios.


Learning from accidents

The Shoreham Airport display map from Air Accidents Investigation Branch Special Bulletin 3 2015A revised list of rules for running public air displays has been issued by the civil aviation authority. The new measures follow a tragic accident in which 11 people died when a vintage 1950s plane crashed onto a main road during an airshow in Shoreham last August.

Since the crash, the authority has issued 29 action points which must be followed by display organisers and pilots. They include changes to detailed risk assessments, pilot training and safety distances.

After aviation accidents, planes are often grounded until causes are identified and new safety measures introduced. Why is this important? Talk about the value of reflecting on accidents and putting measures in place to reduce the risk of them happening again.

Discuss extending such checks into everyday life. After an accident, a near miss, losing or forgetting something, how many people think about the cause and take action to prevent it happening again?

Select a recent event experienced by some young people and analyse it.


Long-distance emergency

Hands on a keyboard

Someone's having a seizure. You call an ambulance. But what if you're not with the person? What if they're in another country and you're chatting over the internet?

That's what happened when couple Anna Messner and Melody Madill were talking over Skype. Anna was in the US when she saw that Melody, a student in Dunedin, New Zealand, was having an epileptic seizure. What would you do?

Anna called her local emergency number, 911, but was told that operators in Oakridge, Tennessee were unable to respond to emergencies across the world. What next? Discuss possible options. How could you get someone in New Zealand to call for an ambulance?

Anna's instinct was to post a request on the online bulletin board, Reddit. It paid off. Within ten minutes a woman in another city in New Zealand saw the request and called an ambulance. Anna was watching on Skype when 45 minutes later, the paramedics knocked on the door.

Discuss possible obstacles to that call being made. If you saw a post like that on an online bulletin how would you verify it was not a hoax? How would you sound plausible to the emergency operator if you were not actually with the person? Discuss the issues and any alternative options young people can think of.

Learn how to help someone who is having a seizure.


Dealing with shortages

Custard creams

"The UK is in the midst of a national biscuit shortage - and it could last until April." Discuss whether young people have heard about this. Are they concerned by the news? Who might be?

Discuss the background. One of the UK's biggest biscuit factories was badly affected by floods in December. The factory in Carlisle, run by United Biscuits, stopped making custard creams, ginger nuts and bourbons among other products.

Talk about how people react to shortages. Some people stockpile, some feel the loss, others try something different. How do young people think they would react to shortages of different items or services?

What items do young people use every day? Which do they think are essential and which could they manage without? Vary the products and help them to analyse how and why their responses might change.

Think about other effects of the flooding on businesses. What do young people know, from their own experience or imagination, about the impact of flooding on individuals, families and communities?

"Rebuild stronger" is one recommendation from aid agencies after devastation. Discuss what this might mean. Think of practical ways that shops, restaurants, schools and homes might rebuild stronger after their experiences.


An act of kindness?

Wallet

New York resident Reilly Flaherty lost his wallet at a concert. He didn't expect to see it again. He was right. He didn’t see the wallet again but he did get some of the contents back.

Some days later, a letter arrived in the post with his credit card and driving licence, and a note. The finder of his wallet had returned some of the contents, but kept the cash, metro card and the wallet itself.

Who thinks Reilly would have been pleased at having some of his things returned? Who thinks keeping part of the contents undermined the gesture? Reilly said he was "conflicted" about the finder's response. Can young people say why?

Do young people think that the concept of "no personal reward" is an important principle of a kind or compassionate act? If so, why? If not, why not?

Reilly Flaherty had already replaced his credit cards and ID. How would young people replace the contents of their wallet or bag if it was lost? How long might that take? How would they deal with the loss in the meantime?



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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