Help 4-H youth feel phsyically and emotionally safe

Explore how to implement the second 4-H guiding principle in 4-H clubs and communities.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has seven guiding principle for positive youth development. This is the second installment of a series that explores each of those guiding principles.

The second Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development is, “Youth are physically and emotionally safe.”

Almost everything we do with youth has an element of risk. Whether it is working with animals, using tools in a craft project or just young people having fun, there is the possibility of participants to get physically hurt. Is your club prepared for those types of emergencies?

Here are some activities you could do to help encourage physical safety in your club:

Ask the manager of your fair if there is an emergency plan. If not help to develop one.
Here are 10 points to consider:

  • Is there a tornado shelter? Is there room for everyone on the fairgrounds?
  • What is the procedure if an animal escapes?
  • What would happen if there was an animal disease outbreak?
  • What happens to animals in an emergency?
  • How would you get animals out in the case of a barn fire?
  • Where are the fire extinguishers on the fairgrounds?
  • Are there long enough hoses to put out fires?
  • Is there a defibrillator on the fairgrounds?
  • Does your club and/or family have an emergency meeting place to make sure everyone is OK?
  • Is there a railroad or major highway near the fairgrounds? If there is, how would you handle a chemical spill?
  • How could 4-H members assist in crowd control during an emergency?

Have an emergency drill at club meeting place or the fairgrounds.

Plan a trip to a local police or fire department, or ambulance service instead of a normal club meeting.

Bring in a first aid expert to teach club members; CPR certification is a good example.

Create homemade first aid kits as part of a club meeting.

Have youth who have a medical condition (such as asthma or bee sting allergies), teach other club members about how they deal with an attack or an emergency.

The emotional safety of youth is just as important as physical safety. A structured yet flexible environment encourages honesty, trust and respect among all youth and adults. Adult and youth volunteers should model constructive ways for providing feedback and addressing situations, behaviors and emotions. Rules, expectations and consequences should be clear, consistent, developmentally appropriate and applied fairly.

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