The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

May 17, 2011

Saturday showdown in the Gulf Coast: Battlestorm tournament helps kids prep for hurricane season

Posted by Jessica Goldfin

With names like Viking, TNT, Bandit and Buzz Kill, the team roster for The Hurricane reads like a mix between X-Men and Ocean’s 11. But their opponents, teams of kids from Boys and Girls Clubs in the Gulf Coast, say they’re ready for whatever their U.S. Navy-trained, adult counterparts can bring.

This Saturday, more than 600 people are expected to pour into the Biloxi High School Competition Gymnasium for a tournament of champions known as the Battlestorm Big Event. The game, funded by Knight Foundation and created by design firm Area/Code, helps families get ready for hurricane season by engaging residents and community partners. The result keeps kids active while teaching them how to help their families prepare. (For more background, see previous posts here and here.) Knight is interested in whether innovative strategies that apply gaming concepts might be able to change how people get ready for storms.

Each and every story on a neighborhood that has been devastated by extreme weather recently reinforces the need for families to be aware and prepared by having disaster plans and emergency survival kits.

Thanks to United Way, people who come on Saturday to cheer for their teams will be able to build a free hurricane kit at the event to take home with them at the end of the day.

Teams have been practicing every week and reaching out to the community around them to get as many people involved as possible. Over 100 people have submitted pictures of their own hurricane preparedness kits to the game’s website as a way of supporting the kids. (With every post in their name, a team gets a “Power Token” that gives them an advantage in the tournament.) Business leaders from the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Hard Rock Casino, Mississippi Power and the local ABC news station have submitted pictures of their kits. Even the mayors of Gulfport and Ocean Springs and a Mississippi Gubernatorial candidate have taken the time to smile for the camera.

Now all that remains is to see who is left standing at the end of the day – the kids, who represent Gulf Coast communities, or the Hurricane, which represents the upcoming storm season. I’m rooting for the kids because as Shannon from the BGCGC of Hancock County says in their team profile below, “We are the Swamp Roots and we’re coming for you, Hurricane!”

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