I still remember the road slowly metamorphose from concrete to mud, the dust my car disturbed from the ground into the air, the little children running barefoot after my car and inquisitive glances that greeted me as I pulled up in front of the village school. It was some years ago but the memory is etched in my mind as if it were just yesterday that I was in rural service and went to visit village schools for camps and awareness talks.
It was an overwhelming experience every time I visited a village school. Childhood had a different face there. The innocence, the smiles were the same but the twinkle in the eyes was a tad bit dimmer. A lot of children remained absent due to ill-health and quite a few of them were malnourished. Poor sanitation and lack of hygiene were the main reasons for the recurrent infections and poor growth. Therefore, as a part of preventive measures, awareness talks were delivered regarding hygiene and sanitation.
The children would listen attentively and smile occasionally and I would look at their hands, full of chalk dust, imitating the steps of hand wash after me. Ten minutes later, they would be eating the mid-day meal served in school with the same hands and I would wonder what I had achieved. That was when I realised that lack of awareness is not the only issue, an equally pertinent one is the lack of resources. All that children have in schools to wash their hands is water. A rushed handwash with water alone cannot ensure hygiene and a provision of soap in schools is still not a practise.
When I recently heard of the Savlon Healthy Hands Chalksticks, I could not help but smile. Someone had finally come up with a solution and what an innovative one too! Imagine a scene where when children place their chalk dust covered hands under water, a lather forms and they can clean their hands nicely. Too good to be true, right? What if I say it IS true? These unique chalk sticks have been improvised by the ITC group to not only enable primary school children to wash their hands but also to inculcate a habit of hand hygiene in them through a very interesting and engaging method.
These chalk sticks are a part of Savlon Swasth India Mission, an appreciable initiative by the ITC group which believes in ‘’Healthier Kids, Stronger India!’’ The programme was launched on Children’s Day this year and the colourful chalk sticks work just like ordinary chalk for writing on slates. The real magic happens when the chalk dust comes in contact with water. You have to see it to believe it, so here goes:
Incredible, isn’t it? The video made me want to try the chalk sticks too. I can only imagine how excited the children must be!
All of us know that children learn better when learning is through fun. This ground breaking innovation is a super-fun way to bring about a lasting behavioural change with respect to hand hygiene. Clean hands are healthy hands! Healthy hands create a healthier and more productive tomorrow.
I consider this initiative as the dawn of a new and progressive thinking that involves out-of-the-box thinking to solve problems and come up with lasting solutions. I see today what I wanted to see years ago when I visited the primary schools-hope!
Savlon Healthy Hands has literally put the health of school children in their own hands and there is no gift in the world as priceless as good health!