Storybooks for children to prepare them for emergencies

Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, at Tampines Regional Library on July 14, 2018, for the launch of four storybooks that teach schoolchildren how to respond to emergencies.
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, at Tampines Regional Library on July 14, 2018, for the launch of four storybooks that teach schoolchildren how to respond to emergencies.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - To prepare schoolchildren in case of an emergency, storybooks showing how characters respond to such events have been distributed to them since April.

The four storybooks, two of which are designed for special needs children, teach them how to prepare, respond and where to seek help during emergencies or after witnessing a traumatic event.

Messages such as "Run, Hide, Tell" from the SGSecure movement - which aims to prepare citizens on what to do in the event of a terrorist attack - are also incorporated into the stories.

The books were officially launched on Saturday (July 14) by Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, at Tampines Regional Library.

About 100 children, including students from Special Education schools such as APSN Katong, Minds Lee Kong Chian, Lighthouse and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore School, attended the launch.

The two books for special needs children have been designed with those who have issues such as visual impairment, physical impairment, dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in mind.

These books have features like large, dyslexic-friendly font, tactile pictures and a structured story layout with few words and blank space.

Temasek Foundation Cares, a Singapore-based non-profit philanthropic organisation, produced the books together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Ms Sun stressed the importance of children and students being prepared to deal with a crisis.

"The storybooks are good resources for educators, parents and caregivers to draw on to help our children stay prepared," she said.

"When every member of our community plays a part to help all of us come together and resolutely safeguard our way of life, we know that Singapore will be strong enough to withstand any crisis."

Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares, said: "It is not too early to teach children, especially those with special needs, to prepare for emergencies."

"Children can feel deeply stressed and may react in different ways from adults," he added. "When we involve children in emergency preparedness early, they will have a sense of control and knowledge on how to stay safe during an actual incident."

More than 100,000 Primary 3 and Primary 4 pupils are expected to receive the "Stay Prepared" storybooks over next three years. The books are incorporated into the current MOE school-based Character and Citizenship Education lessons.

Another 10,000 children with special needs and their caregivers will have access to the books through special education schools this year.