Disaster Management through Games
It’s the eternal favourite Snakes and Ladders board game played on the computer, but with a twist. This time, on landing at a snake’s mouth, you won’t necessarily be gobbled down. You can save yourself and continue the game by correctly answering a question that pops up, relating to disaster management. This modified version of the ever-popular game incorporates information about disaster management, educating children about fires and earthquakes and how to cope best in such situations as they roll the dice and play their game. It’s a given – educate a child and you can effect change in an entire generation. Moreover, educate the child through play and fun and they’ll learn best.
It found an appreciative audience amongst hearing and speech impaired children in particular, and the ISDR has decided to partner with Neeti Solutions to adapt the game to suit such special needs. UN-ISDR is planning to use this in countries like Indonesia and Thailand, where it has some ongoing programmes in disaster management for children with special needs. Also, the game will now be integrated into the ongoing disaster management workshop in Gujarat, conducted by the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, which was set up after the earthquake in 2001.
When the player lands at the base of a ladder or the mouth of a snake, they have to answer a question relating to any kind of disaster. For example, “How would you react if you are inside a building during an earthquake?” Or “What do you do in case your clothes catch fire?” If the answer is correct, the player will move up the ladder or get a bonus point that will save them from the snake. If the answer is wrong, the player loses the chance to climb the ladder or gets eaten by the snake. “The terrible school fire tragedy in Kumbakonam (Tamilnadu) in July 2004 is a stark reminder of what can happen in case of lack of safety awareness. That was the trigger for me to take the initiative in training school children,” she says.
What has been heartening for her is the response from parents of children she has trained. Some of them willingly participate in such programmes and acknowledge the fact that they are now better informed about different emergency responses to various disasters because their children are sharing this information with them.
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