FRIDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- When Dr. Will Sawyer, an
infection prevention specialist, dropped off his young children at
day care in the late 1980s, he saw something most parents rarely
notice: germs, and lots of them.
To Sawyer, happy kids playing with other children and toys meant
the potential spread of infectious diseases, like the flu and
common cold. He knew then that he had to come up with a fun way to
teach his children good hand hygiene. What he didn't know was that
25 years later, he'd still be teaching children how to avoid
catching illnesses that are spread via hands.
To do this, he created a cartoon character named Henry the Hand,
picking a hand because hands play such a significant role in the
spread of infectious diseases. When hands touch a surface or
someone else's hand, they can pick up viruses and bacteria. If
those hands then touch eyes, nose or mouth before they're washed,
the germs have a quick route into the body, where they'll make the
To lessen the chance of catching such bugs, "Henry" taught
Sawyer's kids four important principles of hand hygiene
Sawyer and his cartoon-hand sidekick soon started teaching their
principles of hand awareness at daycare centers and schools.
"Henry" was soon invited to medical conferences.
Asked if he was the one who wore the Henry the Hand costume at
public events, Sawyer coyly answered, "Nobody knows who Superman
Today, Sawyer, who lives in Cincinnati, has five costumes that
he sends around the country to school and community events. He has
also started a new program for high school students that lets them
earn community service hours for teaching young children about the
importance of good hand hygiene.
"We want to get everybody at their schools and in their communities to talk to each other about hand-washing behaviors," Sawyer said. "Let's get the word out and reduce the number of flu and flu-like illnesses."
Read this HealthDay story to learn why
hand hygieneis so important to your health.
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