By Jenny Tolep
It’s been said that children are our future. In Mombasa, Kenya, this serves true as school children become ambassadors for health, spreading knowledge about handwashing practices to their communities. PSI knows that when children learn healthy behaviors, they help pass on life-saving information to their families – setting off a powerful ripple effect.
In partnership with Unilever and Lifebuoy, Unilever’s leading soap brand, PSI works with local governments to establish handwashing programs in schools and communities across Kenya, Vietnam and Zimbabwe – countries where handwashing with soap practices are low. Adopting this daily ritual helps prevent diarrhea which kills approximately 760,000 children under five each year.
Using Lifebuoy’s School of 5 program, PSI trains school teachers and community health workers to reach children with life-saving information on handwashing with soap at the five critical times: before breakfast, lunch and dinner; after using the toilet; and during bath. The School of 5 is a 21-day behavior change communication program where children learn handwashing behaviors through songs, comic books, reward stickers and handwashing pledges. Through this program, the children not only adopt healthier behaviors, but they become the teachers. Empowered with the information and know-how to share these healthy practices with their own families and friends, the children affect life-saving change in their communities.
So far, the program has reached more than 1 million people, and soon plans to incorporate handwashing components into other PSI programs.
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