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Around 1,000 school children here on Friday were trained to use toilets and wash hands using innovative play-based methods ahead of Global Handwashing Day, celebrated on October 15 every year.
The children received the training at 'Swachh Hand Mela' organised by WASH United in partnership with the Unicef at the National Bal Bhavan.
"The necessity of such a large scale training had been felt after it was observed that children, though aware about WASH (Water, Health and Hygiene) principles, seldom practice hygiene or inculcate them on a regular basis in their day to day practice," Nirmala Nair, India Director, WASH United, told IANS.
As part of the training, games were demonstrated before children to motivate them to always use toilets and wash hands with soap before eating and after toilet use.
The games have positive messaging to make handwashing with soap exciting and turn it into a habit. Students learn critical behaviour through a combination of team play, discussions and action.
The students learned why and how to practice good WASH behaviour through repetitive activities. A step-by-step guide makes the toolkit extremely easy to use for teachers. They played in groups with each game lasting for about 20-25 minutes.
"The goal is completely focused on 'doing' rather than memorising which in turn lead to positive habit formation," said Nair.
NGOs across some schools in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and in Telangana where it is implemented by the Swachh Andhra Corporation are using similar methodology to train kids, she said.
"Children learn better through play. Exciting and fun games enable them to be active and generate their own insights about WASH issues. Playful experiences and competition make WASH issues stick much better than lectures and motivate them to act together," she added.
"In one of the games, Knock Down the Germs, children use a soap ball to knock down the germs. The key message is to underline the importance of soap to remove germs from hands before eating food and after using a toilet in this game."
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