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WUCF Helps Families Discuss Traumatic Events With Children

In WUCF’s “Meet the Helpers” campaign, Dr. Brandon Carr explains his job and how he helps in times of trauma.

Among the many reassuring messages that young children heard on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood during its decades on PBS, host and producer Fred Rogers encouraged his viewers to “look for the helpers” whenever they saw news coverage of scary events.

WUCF in Orlando, Fla., has adopted this philosophy in its response to mass shootings and natural disasters that have affected its community.

To help children cope with these traumatic experiences, WUCF is producing a new video series, “Meet the Helpers,” which aims to familiarize children with emergency responders, such as firefighters and doctors, according to Jennifer Cook, WUCF Director of Communications.

The initiative began after the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Since the station doesn’t operate a newsroom, WUCF decided to become a “hub of the helpers.” It created spots and online content advising community members about where to receive or provide help in response to the event, Cook said.

The conversation quickly shifted. Within 24 hours, the station began receiving questions on how to explain the event to kids and help them cope with their fears.

“We started getting a lot of questions … saying, ‘That’s great and we love this, but how do I talk to my kids about this shooting?’” Cook said. “That sparked us to think about it differently as well.” The station reached out to educators for advice on how parents and teachers can talk to children about traumatic events.

Working with Judith Levin, a professor and expert in early childhood development and education at the University of Central Florida, and other community organizations, the station developed a series of interstitials that introduce common “helpers” to kids, according to Catherine Hiles, manager of education and community engagement.

Based on Levin’s insights, the initiative is structured around the importance of giving kids an opportunity “to meet these helpers in a safe environment before something traumatic happens,” Hiles said. After receiving these messages when they feel safe and secure, children are more likely to feel less anxious about accepting assistance during times of emergency.

Videos now in production also feature a sheriff’s deputy, a teacher, a meteorologist, a 911 operator and an emergency medical technician. Each “helper” appears separately in spots that run during program breaks and as streaming videos posted on WUCF’s website, according to Cook. WUCF is also sharing the videos on social media platforms.

Why I Choose PBS LearningMedia

By Brian Lassiter, Astoria Park Elementary, Tallahassee, Florida

One of my main goals as an educator is to help students find their way as an independent learner. Many times I have witnessed students look to the teacher as the holy grail of knowledge.  I would love for that to be the case (for my own ego), but believe it or not, teachers are human – we don’t know everything.

How does this tie into PBS LearningMedia?  Simple.  While guiding my students to think for themselves and formulate ideas based on their own collection of knowledge, students need to have a safe place to learn this skill.  What is safer than allowing students access to a brand they trust and are already familiar with – PBS?

The student access site for PBS LearningMedia (www.florida.pbslearningmedia.org) is a great tool students can use to research and discover information on their own.  I trust when they visit this page nothing inappropriate will pop up on the screen.  I can plan assignments for students to complete on their own if they finish early.  They can complete projects and share with students in class as well as with me.

Another feature I love about PBS LearningMedia is the quality of the content.  PBS is a trusted brand I feel safe using.  Many times I have searched for a topic only to find the resource needed a tweak for student use.  With FPBS Learning Media, I am secure knowing I do not have to stand over the shoulders of students and monitor their every keystroke.

PBS LearningMedia gives me full freedom to allow students to explore.  The content is safe and educational.  There are full-length programs students are familiar with such as Cyber Chase, Martha Speaks and Curious George.  All these programs have been used in my classroom as a way to introduce topics like engineering, or to assist in such school community building like Reading Buddies.

When asked, most teachers say their favorite thing about teaching is when the “light bulb” goes off and the student “gets it.”  I get satisfaction from that as well, however, what really makes my heart swell with pride is when a student comes to me and says, “Mr. Lassiter, I want to share something I learned with the class.”

So allow your students the opportunity to explore PBS LearningMedia, a quality stepping stone in learning – and it’s FREE!

 


 

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