Keeping Little Ones (and Big Ones Too) Healthy with HandwaSHHHing

Oct 15, 2014


Deborah Kidd
science writer

“Shh” is a very important sound in my toddler's ever-expanding lexicon. The dominant - or, at the very least, the most fun - sound in many of her attempts at communication, “shh” can mean fish, shoe, brush. It can tell Mommy to please stop reading that book because it's time to get serious about this nap. And just recently, “shh” took on a different meaning and my new personal favorite: “wash.”

With a little bit of help each morning, Hazel steps up on the big kids' stool at school to wash her hands. Chubby fingers under the running water, the pump of soap  in her palm, the bubbles that she gets to rub around all on her own… It's pure sensory delight! At home, before we eat, or when we come back inside from her ever-vigilant hunt for rocks, when I ask if she wants to wash her hands, Hazel lights up and exclaims, “Shh!”

Little does she know, my daughter is doing much more for her wellbeing than the simple joy that slippery suds bring. This littlest WASH advocate is perpetuating good hygiene and good health with one of the simplest measures around. And by keeping her own hands clean, she's sharing the benefits of handwashing with her classmates and family, too: breaking the cycle of transmission that circulates the bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea, pneumonia, and even the common cold. Sure, her hands will get grubby again, and she'll even get her share of runny noses this season. But with routine handwashing, Hazel is doing her part to keep us all healthy.

Here's to a Happy Global Handwashing Day for Hazel, her classmates, and all the little and big ones this lifesaving tool can keep healthy. This “shh” is certainly not something to keep quiet about!