Save the Children Helping Families Affected by Tornadoes, Focusing on Children's Needs in Shelters and Daycare Centers Relief organization opens child-friendly space in a shelter in Tupelo to protect displaced children

TUPELO, Miss., April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Save the Children will open today a Child-Friendly Space at Bancorp Arena shelter in Tupelo, Miss., which houses 30 children and six infants from a community devastated by a series of destructive tornadoes. The relief agency has also reached out to 160 child care centers damaged by the tornadoes and is assessing children's needs in affected communities. 

"We know that when children have a safe place to play and express themselves immediately after disaster, they're much more likely to bounce back from the chaos and fears they've experienced," said Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Save the Children's emergency team leader in Mississippi.

Save the Children has deployed a team of 50 to provide relief efforts in Mississippi, and has pre-trained several hundred staff from local partner organizations who are ready to respond. Later today and throughout the week, the agency will open Child-Friendly Spaces—safe play areas stocked with books, games and activities—in additional shelters, as needed.  On Thursday, Save the Children will be delivering 1,200 hygiene kits donated by Johnson and Johnson and 200 clothing kits obtained through Carter's to affected families.

In its child-focused response, Save the Children is drawing on prepositioned supplies and a deep network of local partner organizations committed to meeting the needs of children.  Save the Children has run education programs in Mississippi for decades, and responded to Hurricane Katrina and numerous other disasters affecting the state.  Volunteers trained by Save the Children are among those staffing the Child-Friendly Spaces.  

Since they hit Monday, tornadoes have claimed at least 12 people's lives in the state, including the owner of a child care center that was wiped out.

"As always after a disaster, we're very concerned about the loss of local child care facilities.  This is a time when children need a safe place to play and a stable routine more than ever," DeMarrais said.  "Yet child care center owners often do not qualify for official recovery funding, leaving the children and families they serve very vulnerable."

As a national leader in child-focused emergency response, Save the Children has helped more than 500,000 U.S. children affected by disaster in the past decade. Save the Children is one of three national partners with the Red Cross providing child-focused programming in shelters for children affected by emergencies.

 To help Save the Children offer immediate aid for children, as well as the long-term programs that will enable boys and girls to cope with and recover from the disaster, please donate to the American Tornado Relief Fund for Children.

Text TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children and help the response effort. Standard rates apply. 

Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contacts:
Tanya Weinberg,, 202.247.6610
Eileen Burke,, 203.221.4233

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