Fifth-Graders Learn about Emergency Preparedness

LANSING – More than 350 fifth-grade students in 11 schools across the state, including many in Upper Michigan, are learning how to prepare for disasters, react during emergencies and develop a supply kit as part of a national program, called the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP). Today, the Pansophia Academy in Coldwater, Michigan was the first of 11 schools to teach the curriculum to fifth-graders during the 2011-2012 school year.

“This is the first year Michigan was selected to participate in the STEP Program, which is instrumental in educating students about how they can prepare and stay safe during an emergency,” said Capt. W. Thomas Sands, commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD). “Students can then take that knowledge home and share it with family and friends making their

communities better prepared when a disaster strikes.”

STEP is a ready-to-teach classroom curriculum designed for teachers to

help prepare fifth-grade students for various emergencies including

tornadoes, flooding and storms. As part of the program, students also

put together their own emergency supply kit and learn how to develop a

family emergency plan.

The STEP program provides teachers with materials at no cost to the

school, including instructor guides, copies of student handouts and

starter emergency supply kits for each student. The basic lesson

includes one hour of instruction, but teachers have the option of

expanding the lessons to include eight hours of material. STEP

curriculum can be taught by teachers, school officials, first responders

or volunteers.

This past fall, teachers from 11 schools statewide signed-up to

participate in STEP and teach the curriculum by the end of the 2011-2012

school year. Michigan is one of only a few states selected to

participate in the STEP Program, which will be offered again next year

with the hopes of educating at least 2,000 fifth-graders statewide. The

STEP Program was initially piloted in the New England states and was

offered in Wisconsin last year.

STEP is sponsored by the MSP/EMHSD and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Schools participating in STEP include:

Bishop Baraga Catholic School Iron Mountain

Burt Township School Grand Marais

Central School Iron Mountain

Father Marquette Middle School Marquette

Gilbert Elementary School Gwinn

Ishpeming Middle School Ishpeming

K.I. Sawyer Elementary School Gwinn

Nah Tah Wahsh Public Academy Wilson

North Dickinson County School Felch

Powell Township School Big Bay