UM professor honored for social initiative

How Limburg and African children together learn about hand washing

Thanks to an initiative of Prof. Dr. Edward Huizenga, children in Kenya, Uganda, India, Vietnam and the Netherlands are learning together how to wash their hands to prevent infectious diseases that would otherwise prevent them from attending school. For this social impact program called Handwashing Angels, Huizenga recently received the prestigious 2024 Beta Sigma Gamma Business Achievement Award.

The importance of hand hygiene

Hand washing with soap stands as one of the simplest methods to keep children healthy. Hand hygiene also ranks as a prioritized topic on public health agendas worldwide. 900 million children either have limited or no access to handwashing services at their schools, and a staggering 47% of schools globally lack handwashing facilities with soap and water. Consequently, 1 in 4 children falls ill and misses school.

Handwashing Angels

Huizenga started Hand Washing Angels in Kenya in 2019 with a school in Bondo with volunteers and the children's cartoon story of Luna and the Magical Blue Foam. Meanwhile, the program has also implemented projects with Kindante in the Netherlands. Here, too, hand washing is not a matter of course. So a survey was conducted among the children: when do you forget to wash your hands? Thus, hundreds of children in the classrooms learned the effect of clean hands.

What is delightful, is that children from Kindante connect with those in Kenya via livestreams. It is remarkable to witness 10-year-old children discussing their experiences during COVID. Moreover, they collaborate via TikTok to create a dance and a song to perform while washing hands. Did you know that you should also thoroughly wash your thumb and wrist?

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