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Learning good hygiene from cartoons

If talking does not work, try cartoons.

This was the approach taken by secondary school teacher Tessa Solomon when she partnered with Seven Seas Water recently to teach students from three primary schools in Point Fortin about water conservation, hygiene and sanitation tips.

It was part of a pilot programme in June called WASH in Schools Target Challenge, created by Rotary International to develop water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) education.

The team did a presentation using cartoon characters to teach youth about adopting healthy habits that could save lives, as well as learning to respect water rather than waste it. Students also saw PH level tests being done for sea and tap water. Afterwards, they did a quiz and received tokens as rewards for the right answers.

The idea was to help students learn good hygiene in a fun, accessible way.

We all know the importance of washing hands with both soap and water as the first line of defense against the spread of diseases. Children, however, don’t always listen to the messages coming from teachers or parents and can engage in the weirdest of behaviours.

Solomon knows this only too well. She’s seen children do all kinds of things, from leaving the bathroom without washing their hands, to children wiping their wet or dirty hands on other children’s faces. Then there are the kids who pick their noses and rub it on others, or cough in their hands, or wipe their runny noses on a hand and then play, touch, or otherwise physically interact with other children without washing their hands.

“This is fun to them. We tell them that while this may be a game, they can spread diseases, from the common cold to more serious and infectious ailments,” said Solomon.

“Sometimes children may come to school on mornings, open the taps to fill water bottles, and then leave taps on to overflow, or engage in water fights. We try to teach them the value of saving water, to inform them how fortunate they are to have water running from their taps on a daily basis when some areas get it one day a week and some people just don’t have any,” said Solomon.

Solomon is president of the Rotary Club of Point Fortin, and just before her tenure ended last month, her club partnered with Seven Seas Water to teach the students about water conservation, hygiene and sanitation tips. They educated children from Standards Four and Five from Guapo Government Primary and Point Fortin Anglican schools, and from Standard Two from Point Fortin Roman Catholic School. Solomon said in the new term they will follow up to see if children are using the hygiene guidelines.