In 2013 and 2014, Team Happy Foundation established 4 signature “Preparedness + Wetlands Clubs aka Science Clubs” in the Historic Lower 9th Ward and Uptown neighborhoods within Orleans Parish.
Club members/students partook in 5 enrichment activities: received hundreds of new subject-relevant (1) books free of charge due to the generosity of community partners, public grants and individual donors. Additionally, we distributed hurricane readiness (2) kits and wetlands restoration activity worksheets that complemented (3) field trips to an urban wetland triangle called Bayou Bienvenue. We watched locally produced (4) documentaries about comprehensive storm protection; and students created a (5) journal about their experiences, ideas and future plans.
Clubs for 2nd Graders are currently housed at MLK Charter School, All Souls Community Center, Crocker Elementary and Lafayette Academy.
The “Preparedness + Wetlands Clubs aka Science Clubs” are sponsored by Team Happy Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, Big Easy Kiwanis Club, New Orleans Rotary Fund, The AWESOME Foundation, Royal Engineers, Urban Strategies, Loyola University Lindy Boggs Center for Family Literacy and Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development.
We selected those schools and academic institutions because more than 90% of their 2nd Graders receive free lunch, live in high crime and or chronic poverty neighborhoods and are less likely to purchase new children’s books.
The mission of the clubs is to simplify the relationship between wetlands and individuals/community preparedness. Second graders are given a suite of four THF produced age-appropriate books (once a month) that highlight that relationship as well as take field trips to coastal bayous and watch films about the importance of community resilience. The clubs are cultivating “preparedness leaders” and seek to diversify the future of the safety and sustainability industry. We believe vulnerable and underrepresented children are an underutilized asset and a window toward engaging parents about being prepared for hurricane season.
Our juvenile literature characters and storytellers make disaster-kit planning/organizing FUN for kids and families who think being prepared is cost-prohibitive and out of reach. For example, we highlight how free plastic bags from the local grocery store can be used to manufacture a handmade raincoat!
Students also submit a one-page handwritten book report (4 paragraph minimum); on the back of the same page, illustrate their favorite ideas about the stories. The aforementioned assignments enhance their final journal entry: a 6-step action plan on how they will help their community become more prepared for disaster and also: how they will become persuasive advocates for the environmental restoration of wetlands in Southeast Louisiana (3 steps for each concept).