‘Preparing You’ in a disaster management and emergency evacuation programme for persons with special needs. In 2015, the Digicel Foundation collaborated with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to implement the disaster risk reduction intervention for special needs schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The programe was initially funded by the UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) for two years. In 2018, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) came on board to sponsor ‘Preparing You’ for an additional two years. To date, it has impacted 1000 beneficiaries from 18 schools with an investment of US$315,000.
The programme comprises three stages;
- A ‘Train the Trainer’ training component facilitated by the ODPM and officers from the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Prevention Unit
- A student training aspect, where alternative teaching methods are used to build capacity in students with intellectual disabilities. Alternative teaching methods include: puppet shows, music, dance, role-play and learning through virtual reality.
- A safety assessment of the educational facility. This assessment is conducted by Fire Services and Health and Safety Officers who help build evacuation plans and design drills for each school, assign muster points and install fire safety equipment including emergency and strobe lighting and egress points.
In the four years, ‘Preparing You’ has produced four instructional videos where persons with disabilities are the featured talent. Each video provides insight on disaster preparedness in the event of a natural disaster. In 2018, the Digicel Foundation incorporated a virtual reality game called ‘Masters of Prep’, as part of the initiative.