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May 20, 2014

Learning center breaks ground for new safe room

NORMAN — With the help of Save the Children, a Moore child care center broke ground for a new safe room, as well as host a disaster preparedness event, last week.

The Agapeland Learning Center’s previous location was completely destroyed in the May 20 tornado, which also had a shelter. With the new location, Save the Children and staff at the learning center believe it’s very important to have a safe place for staff and children to go once again.

“We were just very happy to be able to help them do that for the children,” said Tanya Weinberg, Save the Children ambassador. “Many were inside the shelter when it (the center) was completely destroyed in last year’s tornado. Although staff did everything they could to protect the children, they were still afraid with a new tornado season here and wanted to be able to protect the children even more.”

Weinberg said Save the Children helped the child care center after the tornado struck last year, as well as other child care centers in the state. Most child care businesses fall through the cracks when they are affected by disasters because they make little to no profit, but they are responsible for the youngest, most vulnerable children in families, she said.

“Having a child back in a stable environment that supports them is so critical at times like that,” Weinberg said.

Save the Children also offered a program called Journey of Hope in Moore schools this year. They will bring the program to Norman schools soon. It was developed after Hurricane Katrina when they saw there was a big need for children’s recovery after the disaster, she said.

Each week, children focus on a different theme around a certain emotion, such as anger, fear or safety. During the groundbreaking for the storm shelter last week, the children focused on safety and read books that dealt with characters going through different situations and talked about what made them feel safe, she said.

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