Oct 14, 2010
Kyra Sommerfeld '13, Chippewa Falls, Wis., joined a prestigious list of speakers – top officials from organizations like the American Red Cross and Scholastic Inc. – at the National Summit on Youth Preparedness in Washington, D.C., this fall.
She was one of three young people invited to speak at the summit, which was designed to help the government increase emergency and disaster preparedness for children of all backgrounds.
For Sommerfeld, this was an easy topic. At age 15 she presented to the police and fire departments in her hometown on the use of sign language in emergencies. She also led a camp for children who learned everything from creating safety kits to escaping burning buildings.
As part of the national summit, Sommerfeld discussed youth preparedness with experts from places like Chile, Haiti and Israel.
“It was so cool to be with such a diverse group and brainstorm,” Sommerfeld says. “When I was part of these discussion groups I wasn’t treated as a youth; I was treated as a professional. I couldn’t believe that people wanted to know what I thought.”
Hearing the other presenters, such as a member of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, also gave Sommerfeld perspective on just how lucky the United States is.
“In the U.S., we teach children about natural disasters. In Israel they teach children how to flee from rockets and bombs,” Sommerfeld says. “This reminded me how very blessed I am to be living in an environment that I can feel safe in.”