Global Public Health Scholars wash up with kindergartners
Giggles and cheers from excited kindergarteners could be heard throughout the halls of the Center for Young Children as they played, colored and learned about washing their hands.
Kindergarteners at the laboratory school on the University of Maryland campus were visited on Wednesday by students from the Global Public Health Scholars program to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. The day is a global advocacy effort dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. GPH Scholars director Dr. Elisabeth Maring has been bringing undergraduate students to the Center for Young Children each year as a way to demonstrate the School of Public Health's commitment to community outreach and education and to support the goals of the global campaign.
The scholars visited the kindergarten class in the center's Blue Room. They taught the children a handwashing song and talked about how to make washing hands a good habit in their daily lives. The students were joined by School of Public Health Dean, Dr. Boris Lushniak who helped draw on a banner and color on sheets of paper that were illustrated with proper hand washing techniques.
Students led the kindergartners in several activities that included a handwashing activity, where the kindergartners washed hands and were able to see spots they may have missed with the use of the "Glo-Germ," which highlights germy spots as white areas under a blacklight.
After thoroughly washing their hands, the kindergartners got the black light again. The germy spots were all gone.
Children who go to the Center for preschool or kindergarten wash their hands at school each morning. They bring the skill home, reminding their families to wash hands after they use the bathroom and before dinner.
Wednesday's activity raised awareness about the importance of handwashing for disease prevention.
Washing hands with soap could prevent many of the 272 million yearly schooldays lost to diarrheal disease, and 50 percent of the infections acquired in healthcare settings, according to the Global Handwashing Partnership.
Handwashing with soap has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and communities, and reduce inequities, the partnership said. It has an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—contributing to zero hunger, good health, quality education, reduced inequalities, and more.