OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced newly selected members and distinguished returning Council members of the FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council (YPC). The Council supports FEMA’s emphasis on and dedication to involving the “Whole Community” in preparedness planning and activities.
FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council was formed last year to bring together youth leaders from across the country that are highly interested and engaged in advocating youth preparedness and to making a difference in their communities. The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities, and provides an avenue to engage young people, taking into account their perspectives, feedback and opinions. Council members will attend a Youth Preparedness Council Summit on youth disaster preparedness and will also complete a Council project with FEMA support.
In its second year, interest in the Youth Preparedness Council has increased based on the number of applications received this year for the five seats available. The five newest members of the Council from across the country have been selected based on their dedication to public service, efforts in making a difference in their community, and their potential to expand their impact as national advocates for youth preparedness.
The returning Council members from FEMA Region IX are as follows:
• FEMA Region IX: Divya Saini (California)
• FEMA Region IX: Tiffany Espensen (California)
• FEMA Region IX: Christian Chowen (Hawaii)
Over the past year, the Youth Preparedness Council members have been promoting preparedness in their communities and across the nation. Several members achieved noteworthy results, including:
• Tiffany Espensen (California), is a 14-year old Teen CERT graduate from one of the first classes held by Julian/Cuyamaca CERT organization where she participated in numerous drills and classes and helps teach skills to other youth and promoting CERT in interviews. She currently starts on Nickelodeon’s “Bucket and Skinner” show. Tiffany developed “Tiffy’s Tip Tuesday” in which she relays disaster preparedness tips via her Twitter account and has more than 17,000 Twitter followers and almost 1,000 Facebook likes on her fan page, helping her spread the word through social media.
• Divya Saini (California) participates in the block Preparedness Coordinator Program and volunteers at local emergency preparedness events to encourage preparedness. She is the founder of Movers and Shakers, a teen club designed to keep Palo Alto resilient. Divya was recently recognized with a grant from Palo Alto High School Board to further her efforts in helping teens be prepared. Recently, Divya was awarded the “Disney Friends for Change” grant for her Block Preparedness Coordinator work, and has authored and published three articles about preparedness in the Palo Alto Weekly Newspaper.
These young people have proven to be positive influencers, leaders, and first responders for their families, peers, and neighbors in taking the preparedness message to heart and to home. The Youth Preparedness Council will continue to provide a venue to engage an often overlooked population and take into account their perspectives, feedback, and opinions.
This year, Council members will have the opportunity to participate in a community preparedness roundtable event in Washington D.C., where they will advise and ask questions on youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on this critical priority. Council members will also determine their Council project and meet with FEMA Community Preparedness staff, who will be their ongoing FEMA support contacts and mentors. Members will also meet virtually with FEMA leadership on a regular basis throughout the year and will provide ongoing input on strategies and initiatives as well as updates on their projects.
To learn more about FEMA’s youth preparedness efforts please visit: www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.