Happy Global Handwashing Day!

Use these fun ideas to celebrate Global Handwashing Day—and make your school safer and healthier in the process.

Each year, more than 164 million school days are lost due to illness. With flu season descending upon us, our best defense is, and always will be, proper handwashing.

If every person at your school—teachers, staff, students, coaches, volunteers and even parents—made handwashing a top priority this year, you could significantly decrease illness-related absenteeism.

Global Handwashing Day, celebrated annually on October 15, is the perfect opportunity to teach your community about critical role they play in infection control. Use this day to talk about why handwashing is so important, how to do it right and when to do it, too.

Here are some fun ways your school can celebrate Global Handwashing Day:

1. Rally for handwashing and school pride. Organize a schoolwide event to celebrate Global Handwashing Day that coordinates with a rally for a big game. Your school nurse or other health advocates in the community can speak to students about the importance of handwashing. Keep it fun by with demonstrations, songs and games. Invite parents!

2. Hold a “handwashing game show.” Select school celebrities like favorite teachers or the principal to be the host and contestants.Consider a fun prize at the end—or an equally fun booby prize, like a dunk tank. Here’s a great resource for important facts about handwashing that everybody should know.

3. Make it a competition. Have kids keep a chart in the classroom and at home that tracks each time they wash their hands all week long. Encourage parents to participate—and get teachers and staff on board, too. The contest can end with prizes and recognition for the top handwashers.

4. Get hip to handwashing. Social media is an excellent tool for engaging the community. By using the official Global Handwashing Day hashtag, #iwashmyhands, to promote your school’s handwashing efforts, your message will spread like wildfire. Consider updating your feeds regularly for the entire month with handwashing facts and tips.

5. Join The Scrub Club. This fun, interactive web site is designed to teach kids how to wash their hands—and why it’s so important. There are games, webisodes, songs, worksheets and more. Learn how one school nurse made The Scrub Club work magic for her kids’ health.