SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tornadoes, lightning, heavy rain and flash floods related to Hurricane Harvey continue to put millions at risk, including nearly 3 million children.
Save the Children is on the ground responding to the needs of children and their families who have been forced from their homes and into emergency shelters. The organization will open its first child-friendly space by 3 p.m. E.T. today to help victims of the storm, and is planning to open more in the coming days. These spaces are safe, well-supervised areas within shelters where children can play, socialize and begin to recover from the disaster, while allowing their parents to concentrate on addressing the family's immediate and longer-term needs.
The first child-friendly space will open in Kazen Middle School, in San Antonio, where hundreds of displaced families, including many with infants and toddlers, are seeking refuge. Save the Children is also providing shelters with portable cribs, strollers and infant and toddler hygiene supplies such as plastic wash basins, baby shampoo and lotion.
"We've lost everything," said Nick, a father of a 1-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl, staying with his family at the Kazen Middle School shelter. "We saw photos of our house destroyed, off its frame, with our belongings strewn around the yard. We used the last of our money to get to the evacuation buses- before they brought the cribs in, our children had to sleep on cots and almost fell off."
"We are working as quickly as possible to help these children and families," said Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Save the Children's senior director of U.S. emergencies, who is leading the agency's response in Texas. "We know from decades of experience that children are the most affected in the wake of emergencies and disasters, and often their needs fall through the cracks. Child-friendly spaces are hugely important in providing a safe place for kids to play away from the turmoil, to support their physical and emotional wellbeing."
The state of Texas intends to establish up to three mega shelters, with the first one being in Houston, and then one in San Antonio, where all residents of the smaller shelters throughout the region will be consolidated. Save the Children will work to help ensure that children's protection needs are prioritized and will seek to supply the shelters with materials to support children's safety, health and hygiene and overall wellbeing.
In the coming days, Save the Children plans to expand its work to assist families outside the San Antonio area, and provide support to child care and early education programs damaged or destroyed by the storm.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Note to Editors: Experts in Texas Available for Interview and Photos Available for Download HERE
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SOURCE Save the Children