SRD Protective Services Coordinator Shaun Koopman points out the various places in Campbell River that could become emergency reception centres should they be required in the event of a wildfire. Koopman is part of a new collaboration between the school district and the SRD that will see some high school students learn Disaster Risk Reduction in school this fall. File photo

Disaster risk reduction course open to Campbell River high school students this fall

SRD protective services coordinator hopes program will eventually become integrated into curriculum

Campbell River high school students will now have the opportunity to earn school credit while learning about disaster risk mitigation and management.

Thanks to a collaboration between the school district (SD72) and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD), beginning this fall, a pilot program will launch to engage youth in our community with Disaster Risk Reduction and help start them on a path to possible future careers in public service, according to SRD protective services coordinator, Shaun Koopman.

Koopman says that in 2015, Canada and 187 other countries throughout the world signed on to the Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction framework, which emphasized a whole-of-community approach to reducing disaster. It stated that children and youth are agents of change and should be given the space and modalities to contribute to disaster risk reduction, in accordance with legislation, national practice and educational curricula.

“Disaster risk reduction (DRR) includes disciplines like disaster management, disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness, but DRR is also part of sustainable development,” Koopman says. “Thus, DRR involves every part of society, government and professional and private sector. This program is relevant to anyone in the area who wants to explore careers in public service and help the community in case of a disaster.”

The SD72 DRR curriculum consists of local partnerships of facilitators and subject matter experts from all levels of government, private organizations such as McElhanney Engineering, SuavAir, Strategic Natural Resources, non-profit organizations such as the Salvation Army and emergency volunteer teams such as Emergency Support Services and Emergency Communications, Koopman says. The curriculum is open to all grade 9-12 students in the district, but will be based out of Timberline Secondary.

Michele Babchuk, former board chair of SD72 and current chair of the SRD board, says she’s excited to see the pilot take off.

“This curriculum is an interdisciplinary collaboration among youth and practitioners working in the field of disaster risk reduction,” Babchuk says. “One of the easiest disaster risk reduction measures we can take as a community, is to empower youth and ensure they are actively involved in disaster risk reduction and contributing to making their communities resilient to disasters.”

“Remember the Fort McMurray fires? Remember the tsunami warnings from our fierce winter storms? Ready for the often-predicted ‘big one’? What would you do in case of a disaster?” asks Diana Camerin – School District 72 Counsellor. “Students from Timberline, Carihi and Robron are excited to be able to answer these questions as they pursue a new Disaster Risk Reduction program starting in the fall. As SD72 continues to explore opportunities in the new curriculum and community partnerships, we are ever more able to be creative with the type of programming we can offer our youth.”

To register for the Disaster Risk Reduction Program, contact Diana Camerin at For more information contact Shaun Koopman at or 250-830-6702.

Koopman says he hopes that the pilot program will go on to become “a regular high school curriculum offered at SD72 to help integrate and prepare the youth in our community to become part of the field of emergency management.”

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