MONONA, Wis. – During a visit to Winnequah School in Monona today, Gov. Tony Evers kicked off a statewide program that teaches students how to be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies.
The Student Tools for Emergency Planning program, or STEP, is a turn-key classroom curriculum for teachers to prepare 4th and 5th graders for various emergencies and disasters, including blizzards, tornadoes, flooding, storms and fires.
“When severe weather or an emergency happens, we want to make sure our kids are prepared and know how to respond quickly,” said Gov. Evers. “Through STEP, students not only learn how to be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies, but they are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with their families. Across the state, 135 schools are helping making sure Wisconsin communities are prepared.”
Administered by Wisconsin Emergency Management and funded by AT&T, the STEP program not only prepares students for disasters and emergencies, but also shows them how to put together an emergency kit and develop an emergency plan.
“Getting students engaged in emergency preparedness is the goal of the STEP program,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator. “In the case of a natural disaster or emergency situation, we want to make sure our students are prepared, they know what to do and where to go.”
The program is being funded this year through a $10,000 contribution from AT&T. AT&T has a long-standing commitment to disaster preparedness and business continuity, and is the first company in the nation to earn U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certification for disaster preparedness. Since 2012, AT&T has provided nearly $100,000 to support the STEP program in Wisconsin.
“We know how critical it is to be ready and prepared to respond in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency,” said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. “We are proud that our network operations are state-of-the-art when it comes to performing during and after a disaster throughout the country. And here in Wisconsin, we are proud to help prepare families to respond to emergencies through our support of the STEP program.”
During today’s assembly, Winnequah School students learned how they can be prepared in the event of a disaster or emergency situation.
“We never know when a natural disaster or emergency might happen in our community, and we want to make sure our students know how to respond,” said Superintendent Daniel Olson of the Monona Grove School District. “We’re excited to bring the STEP program to elementary students not only here at Winnequah, but at Cottage Grove and Glacial Drumlin Schools as well. We are pleased that the program equips our students with the confidence, knowledge, and information they need to respond appropriately in an emergency.”
Teachers are provided with all materials at no cost to the schools, including instructor guides, DVDs and copies of student handouts. All students participating in the program will also receive an emergency kit to take home, which includes a flashlight and ReadyWisconsin bracelet. The basic lesson is only one hour of instruction, but teachers can expand the lessons to cover eight hours of materials.
Wisconsin became the first state in the Midwest to teach the STEP program. Over 75,000 students have participated in STEP since the program began during the 2010-11 school year. Nearly 6,800 additional students are expected to participate in the 2019-2020 school year in 135 schools around the state.
Dozens of volunteers gathered earlier this week to help prepare STEP materials for shipping to schools participating in the program this school year. Those assisting included staff from Wisconsin Emergency Management and members of the AT&T Pioneers volunteer organization.
For more information on the STEP program, please visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/step/ to view a STEP video and download a brochure, or contact Andrew Beckett at email@example.com or 608-242-3211.