Hygiene in Schools Program Helps Students Adopt Healthy Habits

Clean the World’s Oscar Gonzalez teaches proper hand washing techniques.

Clean the World is revolutionizing the way children learn health education in schools. Under the direction of Cairra Martin, our Global Health Coordinator, we are piloting the “Hygiene in Schools” program at two public schools in Orange County, Florida: Eccleston Elementary and Memorial Middle School.

The elementary years are a key time for hygiene education to ensure students build healthy habits while middle school is a pivotal time for children to learn hygiene as they are maturing.

Once a month, Clean the World staff members participate in this community giveback. They join students and parents for three hours after school, the period when some children are waiting for parents who are still at work.

“We are establishing a fun and interactive environment where we can educate the students and families on the correct amount of time needed to wash their hands properly while providing them with the hygiene amenities to follow through with their lesson at home,” Cairra says. “Each participant uses our CTW black light box to learn how germs travel and how proper hand washing is the best way to get your hand clean. We give each child a glowing solution for their hands, a visual representation of the true amount of germs on their hands.”

Under the black light, they can see where germs build up in nails, on the palm and in between the fingers.

“Once each participant is thoroughly grossed out by the germs, they then properly wash their hands for a full twenty seconds.” The kids come back to the black light box to check that they have no “glowing germs” on their hands. Often startled to see glowing, missed areas between their fingers, they rush back to the sink to vanquish the remaining “germs.” This experiment not only teaches the important of the length of time to wash one’s hands but also the importance of thoroughly scrubbing with soap.

The program includes interactive games teaching about germs, as well as fun activity sheets to take home. Cairra and the team are proud to say each household that engages with our program truly enjoys the experience and shows us that Clean the World is moving in the right direction to becoming the leader in hygiene education and awareness.

It is so important to grow the program right here in our home base of Orlando, where nearly one-fifth of all homeless public-school students across the state now live in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties.

Nationally, an estimated 22 million school days are lost annually because of colds alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand washing is the most simple and efficient way to combat these preventable illnesses. By providing this hygiene education, often not covered in the school curriculum, Clean the World bolsters children’s health to keep them confident and in the classroom.

Providing soap and hygiene education for continued childhood success and growth are a primary focus for Clean the World. With the success of our pilot program in Orlando, we are making plans to roll out Hygiene in Schools to communities throughout Florida and the United States. If you are interesting in funding hygiene education in schools, please visit cleantheworld.org/donate.

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