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The LLK way of promoting health habits in schools

© UNICEF Philippines/2009/Viyar
GMA Kapuso Foundation and UNICEF partner for the Linis Lusog Kids program, a project that aims to reduce diarrhea and dental caries by teaching children and their communities the importance of healthy habits.

By Nogel Viyar

UNICEF believes in the power of communities to bring change for children. In Daet, Camarines Norte, parents, teachers and other community members band together to help promote health practices in schools.

Marites Raytana is an active member of the parents, teachers and community association (PTCA) of Barangay Pag-asa. She works as a barangay (village) officer who also volunteers for development projects in her community. Despite her busy schedule, she finds time to teach her two children the value of cleanliness, instilling the value that “health is wealth.”

“I have taught my children the importance of taking a bath everyday, brushing their teeth and hand washing. They have made these part of their daily habit," said Marites. 

Together with other sixty PTCA members from selected schools in Camarines Norte, Marites attended the Linis-Lusog Kids (LLK) training on health promotion and sustainability campaign.

In 2008, the Department of Education (DepEd), GMA Kapuso Foundation and UNICEF embarked on the Linis-Lusog Kids, a joint programme that teaches more than  6,000 children in 21 schools about life-saving health habits that will keep them safe from diseases such as diarrhea and dental caries. Aside from the training, the school children will be given hygiene kits with soaps, toothbrushes and polypaste fluoride. Of the 21 schools, 10 most needy schools will be provided with funds to set-up water and sanitation facilities.  

As part of the LLK project, PTCA participants are trained on DepEd health and hygiene education policies and programmes, guidelines for the implementation of the LLK programme. They were also taught how to conduct their advocacy and resource generation campaign to ensure that the program will continue and more students will benefit. They were also provided instructional materials such as posters, flipcharts and VCDs in the local language

“With this activity, we now know about proper and alternative health care practices. I agree that prevention is much better than cure.  I will volunteer to help share what we have learned in this training, and will promote the activity in our barangay assembly," Marites added.

Children’s health situation at a glance

Marites’ contribution to solving two of the leading causes of child sickness comes with great significance. Diarrhea is the 4th leading cause of deaths of children under five years, and the third leading cause of child illness in the Philippines. It causes 10,000 deaths per year. Along with diarrhea, dental carries is one of the top common ailments that causes children’s absences in school. 

“We are also facing limited manpower and financial resources in addressing these problems. Health promotion is not enough. We need to have a supportive environment and skills enhancement among our stakeholders to encourage children to wash their hands and brush their teeth regularly,” explained DepEd Health and Nutrition Center Officer, Dr. Richell Corilla.

The LLK Way

“The Linis Lusog Kids program uses a strategy that focuses on schools because children who learn these health habits in schools are the ones who will teach it to their family members. Improvement and creating a supportive environment for children is still the best way to teach them about adapting these healthy habits,” said UNICEF Education Specialist Teresita Felipe. She further emphasized that enhancing children’s health and well being is one of the 7 goals of UNICEF’s Child Friendly School System.

For other participants, the training helps reactivate health activities in the classrooms and strengthen the health teaching programs of pubic schools. “This program can also strengthen and activate the health corners in our classrooms here in Camarines Norte,” said DepEd Public Schools District Supervisor Angelina Relucio.

What was learned during the training will be passed on to other staff, parents and community members. This will also be integrated in the health and science subjects of the schools. “We are hopeful that this project will be sustained and will also be extended in the remaining schools that are not part of the pilot phase, especially those that are located in the islands,” Angelina added.

“We plan to raise the issue of sustainability to the provincial school board so they can help us with the funding” said CFSS Coordinator Ramon Avila. “With the PhP22 – 30 per child per year, I think there is hope in continuing the project."

Seven elementary schools in Camarines Norte will benefit from the project (Pag-asa, M. Guinto, Sto. Domingo, Guinacutan, MJ Balon, Sta. Milagrosa and Larap). The Linis Lusog Kids trainings will also be conducted in Sarangani, Antique and Negros Oriental. In addition to the training, the LLK programme will also provide water and sanitation facilities such as toilets in selected schools.

For more information on what UNICEF Philippines does to improve the health and well-being of children in the country, click here.





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