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CleaningMatters logo sm November/December 2011

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ACI Clean Homes . . . Safe and Healthy Families Award Winners

(Left to right) Darlene A. Christensen, NEAFCS president Marsha Lockard and Linda K. Beech
(Left to right) Darlene A. Christensen, NEAFCS president Marsha Lockard and Linda K. Beech

The Clean Homes … Safe and Healthy Families Award of Excellence honors outstanding educational programming efforts conducted by an Extension Educator (individual or team) who utilizes any of the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI) educational materials.

This year's award recipients are Linda K. Beech, county extension agent, Kansas State University Cooperative Extension, and Darlene A. Christensen, associate professor, Utah State University. They each received a $500 cash award and the opportunity to present their award-winning program during the recent 2011 National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Annual Session in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Helping Newcomers Keep House 

Linda K. Beech, county extension agent, Kansas State University Cooperative Extension, earned the award for presenting six sessions of "Home Care for New Kansans" for 74 Burmese, Somali and Spanish speakers and "A Home of My Own" for college students.

Finney County, Kansas, is a culturally diverse community created by immigrants who have come to work in the beef-packing plants in Garden City. The recent arrival of refugees from war-torn lands such as Somalia and Burma has resulted in newcomers struggling with unfamiliar home surfaces, appliances and cleaning products. The Finney County Extension collaborated with several local organizations, including Finney County Center for Children and Families, Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services and the Garden City Community College (GCCC) Refugee Program, to develop a program to help these new arrivals. Six sessions of "Home Care for New Kansans" were presented in March through July of 2011 – two with a Burmese translator, two with a Somali translator and two with a Spanish translator. The program reached 74 participants from Burma, Somalia, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. One session, "A Home of My Own," was presented to students enrolled in the GCCC Refugee Program. A simple verbal pre-test and post-test were used to develop rapport, gain insight into audience needs and assess learning. The program drew on many resources, including ACI's Product Fact Sheet: Hard Surface Hygiene. "These home care classes produced many benefits in our community," says Linda. "New audiences received helpful information. The collaborative planning partnership has opened doors to other opportunities, and while this outreach to nontraditional audiences stretched my comfort zone in many ways, it helped me grow as a better Extension professional and improved my ability to be an advocate and a liaison between our traditional community and some of its newest members."

A Handwashing Message for Kids

Darlene A. Christensen, associate professor, Utah State University, earned the award for conducting "It's in Your Hands," a yearlong handwashing campaign brought to children and families county-wide. Focusing on low-income and underserved families, the program included coloring contests and school visits. Throughout the year, more than 10 handwashing events or activities were held in various communities within Tooele County. The campaign was partially instigated by an outbreak of pinworm in one of the low-income local elementary schools. Working with a concerned mother, Darlene approached the school principal and implemented handwashing education. Classroom presentations and a follow-up bulletin-board contest were the focal points of the program. Supportive materials included ACI's Hooray for Handwashing and Don't Do the Flu coloring sheets.

In addition to a collection of volunteers, Darlene worked with Tooele County Relief Services, Boys and Girls Club, Tooele City Services, Harris Elementary School, Ibapah Goshute Indian Reservation Elementary School and Walmart. "After handwashing programming efforts at Harris Elementary, the students started washing their hands so much more that the janitor complained to the principal that he needed a bigger budget for paper towels and soap," reports Darlene. "The principal agreed to the budget increase and told him it was critically important that the kids get to wash their hands when they need."

The resources used in these award-winning projects and more are available online at https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/clean_living/publication_catalog.aspx.

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