News Masthead


September 19, 2006 03:22 PM
Contact: Brian Sansoni, The Soap and Detergent Association, 202-662-2517,

Kids Teaching Kids About Hygiene:
WI, CA, FL Students Honored by SDA, CDC

  • Hand Hygiene Initiative Seeks to Reduce School Absenteeism,
  • Recognize Students’ Innovative Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2006 – Students from Altoona (Wisconsin) Middle School know about the health benefits of hand hygiene – hands down. And their in-school efforts teaching about the importance of clean hands have led to national recognition: they are the recipients of the 2006 Top Classroom Award from the “Healthy Schools, Healthy People – It’s a SNAP” national awards program.

SNAP – the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention ( – is a joint initiative of The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The five-year old program encourages middle schools to help develop programs that make hand hygiene a priority for students, teachers, school health personnel, administrators and parents.

As the Top Classroom Award recipient, a group of Altoona Middle School students received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., a cash award and free hand hygiene products for their school. The award reception, held at the National Press Club, featured acknowledgements by CDC leaders and SDA members.

Wisconsin Students Encourage Good Hygiene at School and at Home

Several Altoona sixth-grade English students scripted and taped a handwashing video for broadcast on the school’s closed circuit TV program. In addition, they made signs and table tents for display in important hand washing locations such as school kitchens, bathrooms, locker rooms and cafeterias. Students also drafted letters that were sent to parents to encourage hand hygiene at home as well.

Through the school’s participation in SNAP, “the students and staff become aware of the importance of handwashing and hand hygiene,” said Anita Schubring, Altoona Middle School Nurse. “It promotes health and it was very fun to do.”

California, Florida Students Receive Runners-Up Honors

Recognized as runners-up were middle school students and teachers from California and Florida. Ralston Middle School in Belmont, California won praise for their program, W.A.S.H. – Water and Soap Help, now in its second year (a group of Ralston students received the 2005 Top Classroom Award from SNAP). The students teamed up with a professional production studio to create a video guide for educators to use in the classroom. Additionally, the students developed a CD, posters, pamphlets and other resource materials, which were made available to all schools in San Mateo County.

The Language Arts class at DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach, Florida, earned recognition for the development and implementation of “Make a Difference Day.” Students distributed healthy-habit tips and placed health supplies such as hand sanitizer and wipes in the classroom. School absentee numbers were used to determine the relationship between the availability of health supplies, student absenteeism and trips to the school clinic.

Hand Hygiene Education – Critical With the Onset of Cold and Flu Season

“I applaud the SNAP handwashing program’s ongoing efforts to educate our children about handwashing. Proper handwashing is a simple and effective method of preventing the spread of communicable illness, and can lead to better health,” said Acting Surgeon General Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H. “Teaching our children the importance of basic hygiene prepares them to better appreciate and embrace broader prevention messages as they grow.”

“Students who participate in SNAP are spreading the word about the importance of handwashing,” said Nancy Bock, SDA’s Vice President of Education. “They are taking ownership of their health, putting to good use what they’re being taught, and promoting critical hygiene practices.”

The SNAP program launches at the beginning of the school year, just as cold and flu season approaches. According to CDC, cleaning one’s hands is the single most important thing people can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness.

The SNAP initiative brings this message into schools, where nearly 22 million school days are lost due to the common cold and where certain strains of E. coli, salmonella and other bacteria can live on surfaces like cafeteria tables and doorknobs for up to two hours. While basic hygiene is generally learned during early childhood, research points to the benefits of repeating hygiene lessons during the K-12 curricula.

About the SNAP program

The “Healthy Schools, Healthy People – It’s a SNAP” program is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, and The Soap and Detergent Association. The School Network for Absenteeism Prevention (SNAP) program seeks to improve hand hygiene habits among middle school personnel and students to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and reduce related absenteeism. SNAP is a grassroots, education-based effort to improve health by making hand cleaning an integral part of the school day.