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Kids Share Their Experiences of Living at Qualcomm

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For the past week we've heard from many adults who are coping with life at Qualcomm Stadium. Now we hear from some the kids there. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis spoke with a few of them and has this re

Kids Share Their Experiences of Living at Qualcomm

(Photo: Children evacuees choose a stuffed animal toy at the Qualcomm Stadium evacuation shelter. Nicole Lozare/KPBS )

For the past week we've heard from many adults who are coping with life at Qualcomm Stadium. Now we hear from some the kids there. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis spoke with a few of them and has this report.

Organizers aren't exactly sure how many kids are here at the stadium, but at times their numbers were in the thousands. One face in that crowd is 16-year-old Cassandra Barttels. She comes from Carmel Mountain Ranch. Right now she's staring at a group of kids playing jump rope. She says the Qualcomm experience is been a bit overwhelming.

Barttels: A lot of people giving free stuff, and I'm not used to taking free stuff in. And I don't know. I'm still kind in shock...

Volunteers have set up the stadium to cater to all kinds of people in the community. That includes a number of kid-friendly areas -- from an activity center to a makeshift classroom. That classroom is located where football fans would be cheering a player into the end-zone -- Section 55 on the Plaza Level. But instead of fans, volunteer teachers and students fill the stadium seats.

Thirteen year old Ryan Friedman's mom is one of the teachers. He's spent the past few hours reaching out to kids who have no brothers or sisters.

Friedman: Some of the people were really scared and then I was talking to a little girl right there about how her house was, and she said she didn't know...and yeah, the only thing she brought with her was her stuffed animal.

Tintocalis: How did you help you out?

Ryan: Well, we were just coloring and reading books and I talked to her about ballerinas -- that's the book that we were reading about so, yeah.     

And as Ryan connects with his new friends, teenager Jasmine Reed is trying to connect with her childhood friends. Instead of hanging out in the kid zone, she's standing in a long line so she can charge-up her cell phone. Jasmine and her family evacuated from Rancho Bernardo. She says its hard not knowing where her best friends are as the fire rages. 

Reed: Okay yesterday my friend couldn't evacuate because his parents wouldn't leave. He called me crying I felt really bad because I couldn't do anything. I just really wish it didn't happen so people wouldn't feel so much pain.

And some kids say they're trying hard to help their parents deal with that pain. Adisia Sharma and Malcom Jones say they've been babysitting their brothers and sisters so their parents can take a break and concentrate on more important things.  

Sharma & Malcom: We're just trying to just help them through the situation, calm them down, not get them down or upset...just try to help out as much as you can. Yeah. 

Thirteen year old Amanda MacKinnon is doing the same thing. She's the oldest of her five siblings. Her family evacuated from Ramona and has been at Qualcomm for the past week. She says the little ones are eager to go home, but she's not sure if there is a home to go back to.

So far we don't know about our house, so we hope it’s going to be okay you know, its like the tiniest bit of hope.

A number of counselors and therapists have been at the stadium throughout the week, helping kids cope. San Diego County school officials say once schools reopen, they plan to dispatch counselors to help students most affected.

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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