Youth Creating Disaster Recovery Workshop

Christi Welter

JOPLIN, MO. - They grip the rope and lean back, relying on the weight of their neighbors to hold them up. This trust circle is one way young people in Joplin are showing how they leaned on others for support after the 2011 tornado. It's part of the "Youth Creating Disaster Recovery" workshop. 

"It's a project that really is about young people and disaster recovery," said Robin Cox, Youth Disaster Researcher. 

Researchers from Colorado and Canada are hosting the workshop, hoping to tap into the teens' experience. 

"Getting their perspectives on what their needs are, what works, what doesn't work, how they would like to contribute and how they contributed," said Cox. 

It takes a few ice-breakers for them to open up about what they went through. They use different activities, like selecting a photo that represents what it means to be a youth in Joplin, to help them share their experiences with the group. 

"These students hope to make something positive of their devastation stories by helping other young people affected by disaster," said Cox. 

"You can take a bad situation and make it totally awesome, or you can take an even greater situation and completely blow it out of the water," said Tyler Nonemaker, Joplin Youth. 

Youth leaders say this is just the beginning for a much larger plan. 

"I see this project getting bigger and bigger. If you keep working at it, anything can grow and expand and all it takes is something small like an idea," said Cox.