A new project between the University of Rhode Island (URI) – with the URI
Coastal Resources Center (CRC) and Rhode Island Sea Grant as partners — and
Westerly High School is focused on encouraging students, and by extension,
their families and school community, to assess how well prepared they are
to weather emergencies, such as hurricanes, or the longer-term change that
comes from sea level rise. This month, ninth and tenth graders at Westerly High
School are making use of a new online program so they can assess their
readiness for themselves. The information will help URI researchers learn
more about behavior change in terms of emergency preparedness and better
gauge which tools best support this change.
“Students Creating Change: Reducing Our Risk from Natural Disaster,” is a
voluntary project and engages students who receive parental or guardian
permission. Students taking part in the program receive information about
preparedness and readiness activities that can be applied by a family and
carried out at home with little or no cost.
“In light of so much severe weather across the country and in Rhode Island,
Westerly school administrators, with unanimous support from our school
committee, view this partnership with the University of Rhode Island as an
excellent opportunity to further strengthen our commitment to enhancing
both our students’ and their families’ health and wellbeing,” said
School Principal Todd Grimes. “This educational collaboration can benefit
all students who participate since it addresses health standards and serves
to enhance our health curriculum and our coastal community.”
“In the past we have helped high school students reduce health risks, such
as inadequate exercise and unhealthy eating. Now we are researching how
such students can help their families reduce their risks by becoming better
prepared for severe storms,” said URI psychology researcher James O.
Prochaska, Ph.D., director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center at URI.
“Protecting ourselves from storms and sea level rise clearly starts at
home, at school, and within the foundations of community,” said URI CRC
Coastal Manager and Rhode Island Sea Grant Extension Agent Pam Rubinoff. “It’s thrilling
to bring the science and research to bear in these truly useful, practical