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Taking it to the Streets with Ataking it to the streetsAFCS

National Collaborations lead to Community Actions

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) can't put a price on the long term relationship it has with organizations like the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), who are dedicated to improving lives. "They have been long term partners for nearly 40 years says," Nancy Bock, Vice President of Education at ACI. She remembers that last June, ACI challenged AAFCS to encourage its membership of over 8,000 to get involved in educating the public about the H1N1 pandemic. AAFCS accepted the challenge and began to work almost immediately to raise public awareness about the benefits of proper handwashing.

The willingness of the members of AAFCS to get involved – along with this message from Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, "the most critical steps to mitigating the effects of 2009-H1N1 won't take place in Washington – they will take place in your homes, schools and community businesses" – motivated AAFCS members to develop the "Taking it to the Streets" H1N1 initiative in partnership with ACI. This new initiative has gained incredible momentum to help individuals, families and communities prepare for cold and flu season now and in the years to come.

"After hearing about the threat of an H1N1 pandemic, I immediately thought about how AAFCS’ wide and diverse network could be used to educate individuals, families and communities. Other national and international family and consumer sciences organizations have been invited to join forces with us in this important endeavor worldwide," commented Marilyn Swierk, AAFCS President.

Ms. Swierk believes that Family and Consumer Science professionals can provide valuable H1N1 educational information to the public both nationally and internationally through schools, seminars, workshops and civic engagement. Professionals can distribute appropriate information through materials, lessons, workshops, etc. They can also proactively engage other stakeholders on the community level and provide leadership for community education programs. For more information about "Taking it to the Streets" go to www.aafcs.org/Advocacy/H1N1.asp

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 41 million and 84 million cases of 2009 H1N1 occurred between April 2009 and January 16, 2010. The CDC report for the week of February 26, 2010, states that flu activity is relatively low at this time, with most flu continuing to be caused by 2009 H1N1. However, flu activity, caused by either 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu viruses, may rise and fall, but it is expected to continue for weeks. For further statistics visit CDC’s Flu View website http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/.

ACI continues to make its free materials available to the public on its website at www.cleaninginstitute.org and reminds everyone that handwashing is vital year- round and not just during cold and flu season.