Keiki taught important lesson to stay healthy, keep germs from spreading

Throughout the summer, diseases like mumps have been keeping the state Department of Health busy.

With school about to start, the push is on to prevent the spread of disease.

As of Friday, July 21, the mumps outbreak is up to 172 cases so far this year.

Heath officials are fighting back with a new program focusing on teaching students the importance of protecting themselves from germs.

Before lunch gets started, students at Hawaii Literacy’s lunch and learn program know exactly what to do: wash their hands.

Along with the Department of Health, foster grandparents with the Department of Human Services teach kids about how important it is to keep their hands clean.

Victoria Midado is one of the foster grandparents teaching the proper technique.

“Many years back, there were a lot of sicknesses and a lot of colds because they put their hands in their mouth and then on whatever they touched,” Midado said, “so we’re trying to prevent that. It’s important to keep their hands clean at all times.”

The kids are taught to wash their hands for more than 30 seconds, or the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Joan Takamori with DOH’s Public Health Nursing Branch hopes this type of outreach can prevent the spread of disease.

“Like a spread of disease, one person touching another and it’s spreading, imagine if we are just using hand washing and proper hygiene. One person can impact 10 and those 10 can impact another 10 each. It could be really widespread. We just need to remind folks on prevention,” Takamori said.

For educators like Suzanne Skjold, executive director of Hawaii Literacy, students staying healthy means students coming to class.

“We know that health and education are very closely related. When kids have good health they prevent themselves from getting sick and they go to school,” she said.

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