Great Ideas For Handwashing Educators

GermSmall grants to support innovative handwashing education methods were given to 26 local organizations statewide. Here's the best of the best!

  • Ask students to write a short essay. Publish the essays in the local paper. If you like, have them "judged" and give away T-shirts
  • Bulletin board at local health department and exhibit at the shopping mall during "Teddy Bear" health clinic
  • Place cable TV crawl message on the weather channel. Include a handwashing message on statements to city utility customers
  • Commission billboards to spread the message in your area
  • Compose a handwashing song to the melody of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
  • Conduct educational session on the topic of handwashing behavior and disease transmission to high school science classes
  • Conduct presentation at Parents University at the high school
  • County Fair display with educational materials, and a sample bar of soap to get them started! Distribute materials at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and immunization clinics, ambulance services and local nursing colleges
  • Create a costumed "character" and have the character appear at schools and in parades
  • Exhibit at a University Health Fair or present to Humane Society staff
  • Have students help you swab common school surfaces and grow the specimens in petri dishes.
  • Streppolococcus from keyboards in the computer makes an impression on students beyond a lecture alone!
  • Measure "before" and "after" effectiveness of your training efforts by using the GloGerm® kit ( The lotion will "glow" if students haven't thoroughly washed their hands.
  • Compute an average absenteeism rate for your students or group due to illness. Conduct handwashing education and have students wash their hands up to four times each day. Measure absenteeism rate after the project.
  • Perform a pre- and post-test on educational seminar participants to illustrate program effectiveness
  • Place handwashing signs in public restrooms across town
  • Provide on-air radio interviews. Present to pre-schools, elementary schools, association of home-schooled students 4-H groups and at local festivals
  • Provide disposable cameras to school students. Have them take pictures at home of when people should wash their hands. Collect the cameras, develop the film, selected the "best" pictures, enlarge them and have them laminated for placemats. Placemats can be given to local restaurants not only as an educational tool, but a real conversation piece! Or, photos can be made into a "community calendar."
  • Sponsor a school poster contest after educational session presented to student classrooms
  • Supply public park restrooms with soap dispensers and liquid soap, and present handwashing classes to grocery store and restaurant staff (Norton County)
  • Target special audiences - homeless shelters, churches, day camps, home health agency staff, emergency response teams, animal shelter staff, zoos, juvenile detention centers or vendors at fairs and festivals
  • Unobtrusively observe and record length of time students wash hands before and after handwashing education session. Tie your promotions into National Public Health Week during the month of April

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Bureau of Environmental Health
Curtis State Office Building

1000 SW Jackson, Suite 330
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1274
Phone: (785) 296-8092, 1-866-865-3233
FAX: (785) 296-5594