accessibility & help

Mudslide California

A sudden and massive mudslide sent mud, rocks and debris crashing through homes in Montecito, California, on 9 January 2018. At least 20 people died and others are missing. Hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged. This discussion activity considers how you could help support someone who has been through a devastating event.

Suggested age range: 11–16

Curriculum links: PSHE

Family members inspect their a home covered in mud following the mudslides in Montecito© Info

Display the image and ask the learners what they can see in the image. What do they think has happened? Where is it? Who has been affected?

Looking at the photograph, ask learners to imagine they are in the room, as a friend of the people who live there. One of them says, “I can’t believe this has happened. What are we going to do?”

How could you respond?

Ask learners to discuss in groups, then delve deeper with the following activity.

Display the following statements:

  • Sometimes you help just by being there. You don’t have to do anything or find solutions.
  • Hugging isn’t always the best response. It is better not to hug someone unless they indicate that’s what they want.
  • Listening is always a good start. Reflecting out loud, in your own words, on what they’ve said can help someone feel they are not alone.
  • People under stress are not likely to be thinking clearly, and may be confused and find it hard to concentrate. Accept what they say, without arguing.
  • Giving false reassurance to someone who is upset is not a good idea. It separates you from what the person is feeling at that moment.

Still in their groups, ask the young people to look at these statements and think about which three they think are the most important and why.

Then ask learners to move around the room, asking each other about their reactions to the statements. They should try to find someone who:

  • Finds one of the statements surprising
  • Disagrees with one of the statements
  • Thinks that one of the statements would be hard to stick to.

Come together and share results. Is there any other advice the learners would add to the list? How might they also take care of themselves while supporting others?


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in January 2018.


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