Across the world 650 million people do not have access to safe water, and over 2.3 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old. This figure can be dramatically cut by increasing hygiene education and practices. Simply by encouraging people to wash their hands with soap and water after going to the toilet and before preparing food reduces the risk of contracting diarrhoea by almost half.
The aim of this activity is to demonstrate how easily germs are transmitted, and as a result the importance of washing hands regularly and thoroughly.
Washing up bowl.
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-- Ask the young people what we need to do before eating and after going to the toilet (wash our hands) and why.
-- Ask what the problem is with germs. They should say that it can make you unwell.
-- Ask the young people what germs look like and to show you germs on their hands. Explain that germs are invisible but are still there and that washing our hands gets rid of them.
-- Ask how germs can be passed on. Explain that anything our hands touch will transfer germs on to them, so if we wash our hands regularly it helps to stop germs spreading from one person to another and stops us getting ill.
-- Split the young people into two teams. One team should be larger than the other.
-- Ask all the young people to rub a small amount of lotion/moisturiser onto their hands so that they are moist to touch. Please ensure that any skin allergies have been checked with parents before doing this activity.
-- Place an amount of glitter (enough to cover hands) in each of the young people’s hands in the smaller team.
-- Ask them to go around to the larger team who do not have any glitter, and shake their hands. Everyone in the group should aim to shake everyone else’s hand including the adult volunteer.
-- Ask the young people to look at their hands to see if they have glitter on them.
-- Ask them to imagine that the glitter represents germs. Explain to them that the aim of the activity is to show how easily germs are transmitted from one person to another, as well as across surfaces.
-- Ask the young people if they would be willing to eat some crisps or sweets now (remember the glitter is germs).
-- Ask them how they are going to get rid of the germs on their hands – wash them.
-- Using the washing up bowl and water, you should now, in front of all the young people, attempt to get the glitter off your own hands using just water.
-- Whilst your hands are still wet show them to the young people (they should still have glitter on them) and explain that without using soap to wash your hands, germs remain on your skin and can make you sick.
-- Now use some soap and wash your hands again. All the glitter should come off.
-- After drying your hands show them to the group and reiterate the importance of hand-washing with soap as well as clean water.
-- The young people should repeat this hand-washing experiment themselves so that the importance of hand-washing with soap is reiterated to them.
-- Each young person rubs a small amount of cooking oil onto their hands.
-- Cover the foam ball in flour.
-- They should throw the ball to each other to catch.
-- Once the game is over, ask them to now look at their hands and see if they have flour on them (the answer should be yes for everyone).
-- Ask them to imagine that the flour represents germs.
-- Explain that the activity shows how easily germs are transmitted from one person to another, as well as across surfaces.
-- Ask the young people if they would be willing to eat some crisps or sweets now (remember the flour is germs).
-- Ask them how they are going to get rid of the germs on their hands – wash them. Follow hand washing steps above.