U.S. Disaster Relief
In addition to our work with refugees overseas, The Schoolbox Project mobilizes and trains volunteers to provide emergency aid to victims of hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters in the U.S. We stay behind after our initial response for up to three months to provide child friendly spaces to areas where disaster has caused trauma and displacement. See current & past projects below.
past PROJECT: HURRICANE HARVEY
The storm has passed, but recovery has just begun. Floodwater is more than simple rain.
It is often contaminated with sewage and chemicals and can hide sharp objects made of metal or glass. Sewage can cause boils and rashes. Chemicals can burn eyes and skin after exposure. Floodwater can also carry disease.
Coming into contact with contaminated water, whether through ingestion or exposure, can cause severe stomach problems. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should never play with toys that have been in the water until they have been thoroughly washed.
Once the waters recede, clean up comes with its own set of challenges. Contamination from floodwaters and the mold that quickly grows, particularly in a warmer environment will, at minimum, exacerbate asthma and allergies and, at maximum, cause serious and long-lasting illness.
The CDC advises people to wear rubber boots and gloves when they clean their homes, to avoid direct contact with any item that has come into contact with floodwater. Subra also recommends always wearing a mask or respirator.
Walls, floors, and anything with a hard surface that has come into contact with floodwater -- like appliances, countertops or children's play areas -- need to be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a bleach solution. Fabrics should be washed in hot water or dry-cleaned. Furniture like beds and upholstered sofas and chairs that can be saved should be dried in the sun and then sprayed with a disinfectant. Carpets should be steam-cleaned.
Not only is this a huge amount of physical labor – recovering from a natural disaster is often emotionally devastating.
Meet: The Schoolbox Skoolie
Schoolbox Skoolie is a mobile, child-friendly space that operates out of a colorful, converted school bus. It is staffed with local teachers, tutors and child whisperers (background checked, bilingual and trained in trauma informed care) and travels to neighborhoods where cleanup crews are helping families do this incredibly difficult and potentially toxic work. We provide homework help, supervised indoor and outdoor activities, crafts and play for all ages. Children will be safe, engaged, and nearby so that parents can focus on the task at hand. This program identifies and prioritizes underserved communities. Contact us for more info.
past PROJECT: SONOMA COUNTY WILDFIRES
On Monday October 9th, 2017, mandatory evacuations echoed throughout Northern Sonoma County due to multiple, severe wildfires that would eventually destroy nearly 7,000 homes and businesses. The damage caused by these fires left countless families displaced, and destroyed the ANOVA School in Santa Rosa, a program from children with autism, social emotional challenges, learning differences and other neuro-developmental impairments. This was the only specialized school of its kind in Northern California. This left scores of children ranging in age from 5-22, without a place that could accommodate their needs on a daily basis.
WILDFIRES project: skylane
The Schoolbox Project immediately began organizing and coordinating efforts to create temporary child-friendly spaces at multiple sites in Sonoma County, with priority given to children that were being turned away from evacuation centers due to behavioral needs.
The mission of The Schoolbox Project: Skylane is to assist children with exceptionalities whose school may be unavailable due to the wildfires. Skylane is made possible with the support of The Northern California Volleyball Association and Matrix Parent Network.
Within days of the first fire,The Northern California Volleyball Association (NCVA) offered The Schoolbox Project their facility as a temporary space for the The Schoolbox Project: Skylane. The NCVA is a 501(c)(3) organization that, in partnership with USA Volleyball, endeavors to promote participation in a quality program that provides a positive and safe athletic environment through a variety of developmental and competitive opportunities for players of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds.
Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center is a parent-founded, parent-operated 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1983. Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center’s Mission is to empower families of children with special needs to successfully understand and access the systems that serve them. Matrix provides direct services to families and support services to other federally funded parent centers.
The volunteer base for this program is comprised of various local trauma-informed specialists, mental health professionals, special educators, occupational therapists, medical staff, behaviorists, and other compassionate community members.