Knock Down Cups: A Volunteer’s Story from the Hurricane Harvey Pruitt Shelter

By Jane Dean RN, Red Cross Health Services Volunteer

Tamieka, a pregnant mom with her fifth child, and her four other children were all under the age of five. Tamieka was not feeling well and as Health Services volunteers, we needed to attend to her. While she was being taken care of by two of my Disaster Health Service colleagues, there was a need to occupy all the other children.

At times like this you have to get creative. The “Sorry” board-game wasn’t working, the pieces were getting thrown all over the place by one of the children, and he was trying his best to fight with his brother using a toy, plastic pirate knife! After craftily confiscating the plastic knife, I knew I needed to act quickly. Retrieving some polystyrene cups, I set to drawing faces on them and asking the children to give each one a name. This progressed into all the children coloring cups with their own designs.  Of course, the attention span of children is very short, so I had to get my thinking cap on again.  I began to build a tower by stacking the cups on top of each other in rows of four, three, two and one.

The three-year old thought this was great fun and threw an orange at the pyramid tower, knocking it all down.   Although this was not the outcome I had hoped for, it gave me yet another idea.  Let’s play bowling!

We got on the floor with the cups, piled them up again, and used two oranges to have some fun knocking down the cups.   Within minutes, other children came along to play too. I got the children (who were waiting for their turn to “bowl”) to all say “Ready, Steady, Go!” Then, the child holding the oranges had two chances to knock the cups down.  Once this was done, the “Cheering Team” (the children waiting for their turns) would clap and cheer!  All the children had to help stack up the cups again, and I gave them 10 seconds to do this. It was so much fun counting, and then by the time I got to seven, I had to count “seven and a half, seven and three quarters, eight… and so on… to give the children enough time to stack them all up again.

The game lasted quite a long time.  Granted some of the cups got stamped on by the three year old named Money, and we might have to get more for tomorrow, but at least we had some fun!

The children still had more energy left than I did—even though the activity lasted more than an hour. It was entertaining for the other Red Cross volunteers working on the side lines, too. So much so, one of the volunteers wanted to take the photos that you are seeing along with this post.

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