Grade 1 and 2 Holy Cross Catholic Elementary School students spread “Glowgerm” cream on their hands, and watch as they light up as they put them under a UV light emitted by a device affectionately named “Sudsy the Dinosaur.”
The children then line up at the sink, taking turns washing their hands.
Danielle Richard and Miranda Berardelli of the Sudbury and District Health Unit are nearby, checking on their technique.
Afterwards, the children use “Sudsy” again to see how much of the Glowgerm cream they've washed off their hands.
“We go through the process of how to wash our hands with the children,” said Berardelli, a public health inspector.
“The first step is to turn on the tap. Then you want to wet your hands first, then apply the soap, take your hands away from the water and suds it up for 20 seconds, then rinse, dry, and turn off the water with the paper towel.”
A good way to get children to wash their hands thoroughly is to ask them to sing a favourite song while doing so, she said.
“Obviously, if children are washing their hands, we're decreasing the amount of transmission of infectious diseases, which is our goal,” said Richard, a public health nurse.
“If we start it as early as possible, we're creating good habits that they're going to carry on with their siblings and bring to their home.”
Maria Petroski, a Grade 1/2 teacher at Holy Cross, said the school teaches students how to wash their hands as part of its health curriculum.
“They're pretty good at it, but they could always use a little extra work,” she said.
Grade 2 student Matthew Bodnar said it's important to wash his hands “because then I can get all my germs off.” He said he usually remembers to suds up, but occasionally forgets.
The health unit employees visited the school as part of Infection Control Week. An emphasis is being put on hand washing this year, as it's the easiest way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, they said.
“This is the beginning of the season for many infections, including the flu and Norwalk,” Berardelli said. “This is the time to give the message of washing hands.”
Richard also encourages people to avoid getting the flu by receiving their annual flu shot. The health unit offers a number of community flu shot clinics, she said.
Information about these clinics is available by visiting www.sdhu.com or by phoning 705-522-9200. Schools or community groups interested in hand-washing workshops are also asked to contact the health unit.