Save the Children and its animal ambassador Lassie hosted fun “Prep Rally” events here this week to help local children build resiliency and feel safe as the city commemorates the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Lassie Carries a Disaster Supply Kit into a Save the Children Prep Rally, Treme Community Center, New Orleans
Lassie Carries a Disaster Supply Kit into a Save the Children Prep Rally, Treme Community Center, New Orleans
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“The Prep Rally is all about empowering our children to get prepared and feel safe,” said Erin Bradshaw, who leads Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe initiative. “Children are also wonderful at inspiring their families to take action. That’s especially important when we know the government is still behind in efforts to protect children from disaster.”

Lassie Delights Children at a Save the Children Prep Rally, Kingsley House Head Start Program, New Orleans
Lassie Delights Children at a Save the Children Prep Rally, Kingsley House Head Start Program, New Orleans
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Save the Children’s new Disaster Report Card, Still At Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina, shows that the federal government has yet to close many of the gaps in protecting U.S. children identified after Hurricane Katrina. Today, nearly four-fifths of the 2010 final recommendations of the National Commission on Children and Disasters remain unfulfilled, the report finds.

Children at this week’s Prep Rallies participated in fun activities including the disaster supplies relay race, where Lassie ran by their side. The iconic collie delighted children of all ages at the events.

“I gave Lassie a hug and got a red bag with a teddy bear to keep me safe,” said Renee, 4, at a Prep Rally at the Kingsley House Head Start program.

At Thursday’s Prep Rally at the Treme Community Center, actress and Save the Children supporter Dakota Fanning also took part. She helped lead children in a preparedness pledge and distribute backpack kits with kid-friendly disaster supplies, including a comfort item and a notebook to color or write in.

Teaching children about disasters helps them stay calm and cope during emergencies because they know what is happening, what to do and how to follow adult instructions. Talking about disasters also helps kids understand that caring and informed adults are ready to protect them. Schools and community groups can download the free Prep Rally curriculum at www.SavetheChildren.org/PrepRally.

Parents attending this week’s Prep Rallies were also encouraged to create emergency contact cards for their children, which can serve as a lifeline if disaster separates families. Almost 5,000 children were reported missing after Hurricane Katrina.

Save the Children responded to Hurricane Katrina and ran long-term programs to help children across the Gulf Coast recover. The organization has served 1 million U.S. children affected by disaster since 2005.

Preparedness resources for families – including an online tool to make emergency contact cards – can be found at www.savethechildren.org/GetReady.

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