AT&T awards $15K to program teaching kids disaster preparation

MILWAUKEE -- On Monday, October 8th, state leaders took an important step in making sure thousands of young people know what to do if and when an emergency strikes. A $15,000 dollar grant from phone provider AT&T has made the "STEP program" possible.

“Mother Nature can be pretty unpredictable.  She throws curveballs at us all the time. We average 23 tornadoes a year in Wisconsin.  Last year, we had 38 tornadoes," Maj. General Don Dunbar from the Wisconsin National Guard said.

Wisconsin is not immune to natural disasters.  In fact, over the last five years, six federal disasters have been declared.  If and when Mother Nature strikes again, the 300 kids at Woodlands School in Milwaukee will know how to prepare and react.

The students at Woodlands School are just a handful of the nearly 10,000 kids statewide that will participate in the Student Tools for Emergency Planning program, also known as STEP.

It’s a national program made possible this year through a $15,000 dollar grant from phone provider AT&T.

“What we're really trying to do here is reach kids in fifth and sixth grades and try to get them thinking about being prepared,” AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden said.

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch helped Wisconsin Emergency Management kick off the STEP program Monday. The program works to teach little ones how to put together an emergency kit and develop an emergency plan with their families.

“I've got a fourth-grader and a first-grader at home, and these are things we as parents need to talk about with our children,” Kleefisch said.

Students who've taken the class say it's "need to know" information because Wisconsin weather can pack a punch at any given time.

“It's important to stay safe and you always have to be prepared because emergencies can happen at any time to anyone,” seventh-grader Kenyon Terrell said.

The STEP program started in Wisconsin two years ago with nearly 2,400 students participating.  Last year, it grew to 6,000 students.  This year, the goal is to reach to 10,000.

CLICK HERE for additional information about the STEP program.