FLORENCE – Handwashing is something that we can never do enough during the height of the flu season. Some area second graders received a fun lesson on handwashing last week as part of a demonstration by Essity on Global Handwashing Day, October 15.

Essity is a leading international hygiene, health and paper goods company with a plant in Barton. The company is part of the Global Handwashing Partnership, an initiative now in its tenth year that focuses on the importance of handwashing properly with soap and water to avoid spreading germs.

Twenty second grade students in Ms. Dawn Gray’s classroom at Forest Hills Elementary received the first local demonstration and handwashing challenge. Essity’s Karen Haddock explained how easily germs can spread and led the demonstration. Her interactions included visuals and several questions for the children that generated some well-reasoned answers.

Then, using simple dabs of special glow in the dark lotion to represent germs on their hands and a florescent flashlight just a few moments later, the students experienced firsthand how quickly those germs can spread. The students then washed their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap, dried with paper towels, then held them back under the light. End result? Seeing who washes their hands better.

School administrators and teachers throughout the Shoals may order free Handwashing Works kits online to demonstrate for their classes as well. The kits include a helpful lesson plan for teachers and colorful materials reinforcing the five handwashing steps for posting in classrooms.

The goal of Handwashing Works is to help establish and reinforce proper handwashing habits among young children. This will work to decrease the spread of germs throughout schools and in the home. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, the 2017-18 flu season was the worst since 2009. Being prepared for 2018-19 flu season to keep children healthy and in school is more critical than ever, and proper handwashing is an important component of this.

Ms. Gray’s students know that very well.