As a 4-H club member and a caring person, you are probably wondering what you can do to help people your age that have moved out out storm-stricken areas. Here are some suggested activities to help new students in your schools or at other schools:
Buddy-Up: Having a buddy will help the new student get into a more “normal” routing, which is important to cope after a crisis. It will also help him to feel welcome, which is a comfort in trying circumstances.
- Identify new students in the school. Information for this may be available through the school’s guidance counselor. Agents may be able to get this information beforehand from the local school board office.
- Pair a 4-H club member or Jr. Leader with each new student. Pairings can be made after each new students completes a brief questionnaire listing his or her favorite music, hobbies or interests. The 4-H’ers having most in common with that person can be the person’s buddy.
- Develop an informal “list” of cool things to do in your town and share the information with the buddies. The list can cover popular hangouts, the best places to buy cool clothes, fun local events, etc. The local Chamber of Commerce may have packets of information on local resources to share with the buddies or their families.
- Invite your buddy to school events and social events. Include him or her as much as possible in all activities. After a time, your buddy may develop other friends and will begin to do things more independently. That’s when you know they feel good about themselves and better about their circumstances.
Welcome Wagon: Offering an voluntary opportunity for displaced students to meet together at one time may unify the students. Talking about what they feel is helpful in the healing process.
- Organize a Welcome to our School get-together for the new students. Work through your school officials, your student body and perhaps other groups.
- Keep the formality brief. Offer introductions of school administration so that students can put names with faces.
- Allow students to network with each other and establish connections.
- Keep the number of “established” students to a small number so that the new students can feel comfortable and in control of their environment.
Mail Call: When youth are away from their friends and their usual surroundings, they begin to have self-doubts and their fears tend to creep in more often. Receiving letters of support, even if they are from strangers, will help displaced youth feel they have support from others.
- Develop and send letters to displaced youth throughout the state. Write words of encouragement and support. Let them know someone is thinking about them even if their plight is no longer in the news media.
- Establish with your agents where the letters will go and instructions on where to send the letters.
Diane D. Sasser, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Family Development; Janet Fox, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Volunteer Development and Leadership, and Lanette Hebert, 4-H Coordinator, Southwest and Central Regions