Global Handwashing Day

26 October 2009

Global Handwashing day is an initiative by global aid agencies and industry to promote hygiene practice and to highlight how diseases can be spread. Marrickville West Public School participated in a morning of high-tech germ spotting that showed just how pervasive those pesky germs truly are!

Elaine Ryan from the Faculty of Health Sciences facilitated a workshop for 55 year three and four students that had students shrieking, giggling, mystified and, by the end of the session, proficient at hand washing. One of the things we learnt about the spread of germs was that they travel quite a distance just by touching things. So, when sneezing and coughing, you need to use a tissue, use your sleeve or in your inner elbow joint, but not your hands if you're unable to wash them immediately. Of course amongst giggles and horror, this elicited the response (as any discerning young boy would point out) "but what if you leave stuff behind on your sleeve?".

The real highlight of the workshop was using glow in the dark germ powder and cream that lit up in all its dazzling glory under the UV torches. Each student had to rub their hands to spread the "germs" around their hands, nails and wrists. When we dimmed the lights and had the students inspect their hands, the glow from the germs was bright enough to send signals to the class across the hall. The students were quick to learn how to wash their hands properly (minimum of 20 seconds washing) and scrubbed away until not a trace of florescent specs could be found on their hands.

The workshop was a fun way to educate students on the importance of handwashing. "Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year," say the Health in Your Hands Founding Members. Whilst mortality rates from these infections are low in our communities, limiting the spread of viruses such as Swine Flu is contingent on washing hands properly.

Compass would like to thank Elaine for giving her time to prepare and facilitate the workshops at the school. The students and teachers had a great morning. Apologies to the school for the exponential and excessive use of hand soap they may experience over the next week or two.

Clean hands!
Clean hands!