Fun handwashing program teaches kids how to prevent the flu

With flu season just around the corner — and H1N1 flu a growing concern — health officials in Berkeley, Calif., have found that teaching kids about flu prevention in a fun way can help keep children healthy.

Through its WHACK the Flu program, a community education effort sponsored by the City of Berkeley Public Health Division, officials are driving home the message that good hand hygiene habits are important for preventing the flu. The “WHACK” part of the program’s name is an acronym for a series of flu prevention tips for kids: Wash your hands; Home is for where you stay; Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; Cover your coughs and sneezes; and Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

The program trains volunteers to perform a skit on the dangers of “Fred the Flu Germ” and explain all of the many places germs can be found, from noses, to hands and schools. Between giggles from the young ones, the skit shows how to cover mouths when coughing or sneezing and even includes a handwashing song that helps kids learn how long to wash.

The program, which is being used by the Berkeley school district as a preventive measure against H1N1, aka swine flu, leaves kids excited about washing their hands, singing the handwashing song and tickled by the notion that they can avoid the Fred the Flu Germ by whacking the flu.

Because it can be performed anywhere, WHACK the Flu has been used by health workers around the country. Free materials from the program — including the skit, teacher evaluation form and posters — are available online in both English and Spanish. Take a look and help school kids prevent flu in your community today.

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