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Board game teaches Honduran schoolchildren about managing risk

© UNICEF Honduras/2010/Molero
Teacher Marilia Flores hands out cards bearing questions about risk management to her students at La Isla School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where they are playing a game of Riesgolandia, or Riskland.

By Ianire Molero

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, 9 November 2010 – La Isla School was flooded and lost all its equipment last June, when Tropical Storm Agatha caused the nearby Choluteca River to overflow. But today, students at the school gather around Riesgolandia, or Riskland, a board game created by UNICEF that aims to instill a culture of risk management in the schoolchildren of Honduras – one of the Latin American countries where natural disasters are regular occurrence.

The chalkboards display drawings of animals. “These are from the previous class,” says Fátima, 9, she rolls dice on a colorful gameboard. After she moves her game piece, the classmates who are also playing the game ask her a flurry of questions.

“How do we deal with a hurricane? How do we protect the school in an emergency? How do we deal with an evacuation of the classroom?” they ask.

Basic precautions

“Before,” says teacher Marilia Flores, “we didn’t check the weather forecast, and now we follow it carefully and keep school supplies in safe areas.” Because of these basic safety precautions, adds Ms. Flores, the school suffered much less when Hurricane Matthew hit in September.

© UNICEF Honduras/2010/Molero
Fátima, a student at La Isla School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, reads a question while playing Riesgolandia (Riskland) with her classmates.

Riskland is the children’s version of the ‘Teachers’ Methodological Guide to Risk Management,’ which UNICEF has used for five years with the Honduran Ministry of Education and the non-governmental organization GOAL. UNICEF’s goal in promoting the guide and, now, the children’s game is to promote disaster prevention and environmental education in schools.

In this effort, the teacher’s role is crucial. “The teacher must know and teach their students to prevent risk, to prepare for it,” says Ministry of Education spokesperson Zulema Herrera. “There must be a school safety plan, hazard maps and knowledge of how to respond to emergency situations.”

‘I’m not afraid’

The students of the La Isla School continue to play Riskland with Ms. Flores. They laugh and joke among themselves as they make a list of rules to follow when faced with a situation like the one they lived through just months ago.

“It’s like learning by playing,” says Fátima. “I’m not afraid of losing classroom materials again.”



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