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June 1, 2005 03:30 PM

Soap and Water Is a Winner for California 8th Graders

  • Students Receive National Award from SDA, CDC Program
  • “Healthy Schools, Healthy People: It's A SNAP” Aims to Reduce Absenteeism Through Hand Hygiene Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. , June 1, 2005 – Eighth graders in Belmont, California believe that water and soap help make a difference in reducing school absenteeism. And their efforts have been recognized nationally by a hand hygiene education program developed by The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Students at Ralston Middle School in Belmont received top recognition from the Healthy Schools, Healthy People - It's a SNAP! Program ( www.itsasnap.org ). SNAP – the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention – challenges middle schools to develop programs that make hand hygiene a priority for the entire school community.

The Ralston eighth-graders created the Water and Soap Help! Program -- W.A.S.H. for short. With the help of a professional television studio, students created an infomercial on the importance of hand hygiene.
The W.A.S.H. creators also led in-school assemblies and researched and wrote papers detailing the importance and benefits of handwashing and proper handwashing techniques. The students also explained the consequences of not engaging in good hand hygiene practices – which can lead to the spread of harmful germs that can make you sick.

Additionally, the students are promoting the distribution of the increasingly popular silicone awareness bands, branded with a proper handwashing message. Students are furthering the project's success by continuing to visit classrooms in other grades to educate students about handwashing.

As the Top Award recipient, Ralston school students receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. and a celebration for the winning class. Students will also be honored at a reception in Washington, D.C. during National Clean Hands Week (September 18-24, 2005).

Two other schools were recognized as runners-up by SNAP: Maplewood Middle School in Cortland, Ohio and Central Elementary School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

“Students, teachers, administrators and parents are getting the message – hand hygiene matters,” said Nancy Bock, SDA Vice President of Education. “Washing with soap and water needs to be a regular habit throughout the school day. And if soap and water are not available, there should be other tools in place – like hand sanitizers and wipes – to help keep hands clean and reduce absenteeism in our schools.”

Launched in 2002, SNAP seeks to improve hand hygiene habits among middle school personnel and students to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and reduce related absenteeism. SDA was one of only 15 non-profit groups to receive the American Society of Association Executives 2005 Award of Excellence for its role in the SNAP program. The Award recognizes associations that “propel America forward with innovative projects in education, skills training, business and social innovation, knowledge creation, citizenship and community service.”

The SNAP program is available to middle schools throughout the school year. For information on how to participate in the SNAP program, visit the SNAP website at www.itsasnap.org or contact SNAP@cleaninginstitute.org .