We always want the children at Millbank to feel that they can -and indeed should try- to make a difference in the world. We try and put it under the banner of our "BE THE CHANGE, you want to see in the world" (spoken by Gandhi's grandson) campaign. It could be the little things like doing local litter picks, or collecting food for those in need in our community. On Global Hand washing Day we had helped our friend at the AMAF school in Kenya join millions around the world celebrate the importance of hand washing by funding another water tank, this one for the latrines.
We raised money through the Healthy Fun Run selling photos of the children holding the Olympic torch and lots of other activities. It was not a vast some of money, we are not in a rich part of Cardiff when it comes to money, but the families here do have a generosity of spirit and kindness.
Mrs Richards class 3/dosbarth Tanni Grey-Thompson are photographed above handing out stickers and leaflets about the need to wash their hands, reinforcing the message at assembly. Upset tummies & nasty coughs can be nasty enough for children here in the UK & are obviously worth avoiding, which is why we are so enthusiastic about teaching the children about hand washing properly. But globally diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia accounts for the lives of over 3.5 million of children every year. Globally educating children to make hand washing with soap an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical.
In 2012 there were lots of activities in Kenya including a world Record breaking attempt at handwashing in schools. The Chief Public Health Officer for Kenya Dr. Ombacho said:- “We too celebrated 5TH Global Hand Washing Day with the theme – ‘HELP MORE CHILDREN REACH THEIR 5TH BIRTHDAY’.
Over 82 people in Kenya succumb every day due to diarrhoeal diseases. 97% of Kenyan households have access to soap, only 5% use soap consistently. Its usage is prioritise for bathing, washing dishes and clothes and not hand washing with soap. Furthermore, only 1% of school attending children consistently wash their hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet.
So you can see it is a great way for children to see that they are having an effect on our world. Enabling children to get better attendance and better results at school as is their right under the UNCRC along with their right to be taught about handwashing etc. The children can even see that they are tackling some of the Millennium Development Goals (– particularly those related to increasing access to primary education, reducing child mortality and advancing gender equality, as well as the targets for improving water and sanitation). So when they see items on the news they can say that are making a difference in the world.
Of course before we start feeling smug or thinking that this is all about other countries. the message about handwashing is all to important here, there are lots of articles about norovirus and germs being spread by touch. A article today on the BBC reminds us that when it comes to handwashing "The British are particularly bad, other research suggests. Many of us also lie and claim we have washed our hands when we haven't, especially after going to the toilet. In a recent UK-wide study, 99% of people interviewed at motorway service stations toilets claimed they had washed their hands after going to the toilet.
Electronic recording devices revealed only 32% of men and 64% of women actually did." Of course adults are role models for children who are great at copying behaviours,. So they do often just rinse their hands rather than wash them properly. But the good news is that like developing countries if we teach children then it filters through back to thfamilies.
The main global handwashing day website has loads of
information as well as a lovely germ game to play. You can see some photos from the last year when Mrs Brown was our teacher when we used the glitter bugs handwash and UV light to show us how we need to wash our hands thouroughly, just because they looked clean does not mean that they are.
There are lots more articles in our weekly parents newsletter about Handwashing, World Toilet day over the years.