In early May 2016, the Fort McMurray (Fort Mac) fire put Albertans in the midst of a major crisis. Over 80,000 evacuees needed to leave their homes.
Thursday night on June 20 2013 I was out with a group of Calgarians. We were attending the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Calgary’s Fast Track program’s showcase and celebration for emerging speakers. We heard about two people who were not able to attend due to the torrential downpour of rain but the evening went as planned. By the next morning Southern Alberta, including Calgary, was in a state of emergency.
Children are affected by natural disasters, but their level of understanding varies with their age and language ability. As parents and caregivers, we want to support them and encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts about the event. Here is an ages and stages guide to help you channel their anxiety into positive actions.
When our Benjamin was 15 years old we moved to Calgary. We had no idea he was bullied until one day he came home with a whack of hair cut out of the back of his head. Someone in the seat behind him violated his physical space and dignity. I also learned that the first week he attended school he found a note on his school locker saying, “Go home! Ontario F@$#!” I asked if I had his permission to approach the school. “No!” he said. He wanted to try working things out on his own first. He put a plan in place and it worked out. He developed a support group of friends which made a difference that changed it all. Once we know our children are safe, we need to not do for them what they can do and want to do for themselves. It empowers their competence.