*Note to Readers: The Kids' Korner section is now Youth in Action. This section features young people leading in disaster preparedness and making a difference in their community.
Maxwell Hahn, a second-year member of FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council (YPC), says he’s always been interested in finding ways to help people. But he sometimes felt held back because of his age. When he was 15, he tried to volunteer at a hospital but was told he was too young.
Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania teen has racked up several major accomplishments. He’s an Eagle Scout and has earned an amateur radio license. He has served as a member of his county’s youth advisory board to educate students about drug and alcohol abuse. He is also a trained Skywarn spotter with the National Weather Service, reporting severe weather as it happens.
He continued his commitment to community service last year when he began a job as a pharmacy technician. This year, he is helping to administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents. After high school, Hahn plans to major in computational mathematics and political science in college. He wants to someday work for the federal government, perhaps with the National Security Agency.
Hahn hopes his time in the YPC can help highlight the importance of youth getting involved in their communities. He believes that engaging youth on social media is vital because youth are most often learning and sharing information about their community involvement through social media.
“I believe that the future of emergency preparedness is solidly rooted in social media,” he said. “Youth get their day-to-day news from social media and use social media as their primary means by which to stay connected with the outside world. So, what could possibly be a better medium through which to promote an atmosphere of preparedness?”
The pandemic has led to an even greater reliance on online communication, Hahn notes.
“My most meaningful experience with the YPC so far has been meeting as a group through Zoom this past summer,” he said.
For his YPC project, Hahn plans to develop and hold a weekend preparedness camping trip for local Scouts. While he had originally wanted it to take place this spring, it was postponed due to the pandemic. Hahn is hopeful it can still take place in person rather than holding another virtual event.
“Much of the Scouts program is already centered around being prepared. That is the Scout motto, after all. I hope to hold rotating sessions and activities on major preparedness topics including first aid, financial and family/emergency preparedness, and more,” he said.
Hahn adds that he’s glad to have had his YPC projects during this trying time.
“The pandemic put an end to a lot of things, but it was refreshing to return to a semblance of normalcy in that I could continue to work with my other YPC members,” he said. “Emergencies won’t cease to exist during this time of shutdowns and quarantines. Emergencies will continue regardless, and we need to be prepared for when they occur.”
Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov
This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here.