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UNICEF turns to arts to educate
children about bird flu prevention

© UNICEF Philippines/2007/Alquinto
Dianne, 12, talks about the story of a colorful bird which is afraid of getting sick, during a storytelling session
at the UNICEF-assisted arts workshop on bird flu.

22 February 2007, Manila . Over 150 school children from three hot spot areas for bird flu in the Philippines joined week-long arts workshops conducted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

As part of the Stay Bird Flu-Free campaign in the Philippines, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of Japan launched a series of art camps for school children in the provinces of Agusan, Capiz, and Pampanga.

These three areas are part of the hot spots identified by the Philippine government. A hot spot is a community with a significant population of migratory birds and poultry.

In the town of Candaba, Pampanga, UNICEF and the Cultural Center of the Philippines gathered 60 student leaders from different elementary schools of the municipality named as the Home of Migratory Birds.

Mayor Jerry Pelayo welcomed the support of UNICEF and CCP and indicated his government's willingness to intensify its local campaign against bird flu in schools and communities.

Mayor Pelayo said that it is easy to scare people about the dangers of bird flu. "But we have to speak to them in a manner that will not cause undue panic."

With children, the CCP used the arts to help children understand the relationship of humans and their environment. CCP team leader Tracy Santiago says: "Our approach is participatory and creative. Through songs, dances, and stories, children learn about bird flu prevention and become confident that they can help other children to practice basic hygiene practices like handwashing and cough manners that may be the only vital guards against the spread of any disease."

These workshops form part of the Iwas Bird Flu (Stay Bird Flu-Free) campaign of the National Avian Influenza Task Force. The Philippines has, so far, remained free from any case of bird flu among animals and humans.

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For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Dale Rutstein
UNICEF Manila, 901 0177 or 0917 866 4969,
Alexis Rodrigo
UNICEF Manila, 901 0173 or 0917 858 9447,

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