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Bhopal Kids celebrate Global Handwashing day

BHOPAL, India, 14 October 2010 - About 10, 000 enthusiastic school children gathered at the Lal Parade Grounds here on Thursday morning to soap-up and celebrate Global Handwashing Day.

Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan and School Education Minister of Madhya Pradesh Archana Chitnis addressed the gathering, enlightening young students on how hand washing with soap reduces the incidence of diseases and ensures a healthier life. Thursday’s campaign was organized and supported by UNICEF in association with volunteers from Bharat Scouts and Guides, National Service Scheme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan reminded students that handwashing was part of India’s tradition for thousands of years. "As a student, when I returned home after school, my grandmother never permitted entry into the house without washing hands and feet,". said the Chief Minister adding, "In Indian homes, you are still not allowed to wear footwear inside the house. Handwashing is the basic tenet to cleanliness and keeping diseases at bay. Handwashing has always been part of this country’s tradition. All we need to do is remember that tradition and follow it."

The Chief Minister asked the students’ congregation a number of questions pertaining to hand washing. "How many of you wash yours hands? Do you wash hands before and after meals? Do you lather-up and wash your hands before and after using the toilet? Do you wash-up after playing outdoors? Do your family members wash their hands with soap and water?" he asked to which the students replied with fervor. "I shake hands with members of the public everyday. Personal touch helps develop relationships. Never refuse to shake hands with friends. Work, play and make more friends. But remember to wash your hands with soap before meals," he added.

School Education Minister Archana Chitnis told the gathering that washing hands with soap regularly throughout the day, can prevent 50 per cent of common diseases including diahorrea, respiratory infections and conjunctivitis.

She argued that children are the real leaders of their homes because they decide what should be served for dinner and have a say in their parents’ well being. Chitnis appealed to the students that since they enjoyed the privilege of riding on the father’s back during childhood, they were influential enough to transform hand washing with soap into a habit within the family. Everyone including parents listen to their children.

UNICEF Chief of Madhya Pradesh field office Dr Tania Goldner described hand washing with soap an important mission. "We are here to celebrate Gobal Hand Washing Day because cleaning hands saves lives of children," she said from the dais as the young spectators listened to her intently. "Today, we have gathered here to enjoy, play and learn. We will enjoy this beautiful morning in this huge stadium and play because that is what children should do. And we are here to learn about some simple messages that save lives." "All over the world, including India, diahorrea and pneumonia kill millions of children. These are killer diseases and one way of preventing them is by washing hands with soap," Dr Goldner said. "Washing with water is not enough, it is the use of soap that frees hands from the germs and viruses. We join this campaign today for a healthier and stronger India." Students were given a demonstration on the five steps to effective hand washing from how to apply soap to the methods of cleaning the back of their hands and nails.

A ten-minute football match was organized between a team named Mallasur (germ demons) and another called `swacchata’ (cleanliness). Cleanliness team, led by Chief Minister, won the match.



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