Happy Global Handwashing Day! The Power Is in Your Hands.

Did you wash with soap today? If you're not in regular practice, it's time to pump it up and get scrubbing because today is Global Handwashing Day! That's right. Paw polishing is so important that it has its own day.  Why? Well...

Remember that time you got food poisoning after eating take-out? The chef probably pooped and didn't wash his hands. Gross, huh? But today is about much more than reminding you and me to cultivate bubbly fingers. According to the Global Handwashing Day official website:

"Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths."

Without clean water, sanitation and regular handwashing (a triad often referred to as WASH), A Tippy Tap in usediarrhea becomes a regular recurrence. This means that money must be spent on medicine, students are absent from school and are undernourished, causing physical and developmental delays. For many children who lack access to medical care or clean water, diarrhea can be deadly. Global Handwashing Day gives schools around the world an opportunity to reinforce good hygiene practices. Check out some of the events going on around the world today, learn more at WASH Advocates, and find out how to build a Tippy Tap just like the one on the left. Perhaps most importantly, lend your support to the Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which increases the effectiveness of the USA's current life-saving international programs without increasing costs.

And remember that diarrhea you got? The Center for Disease Control's most recent report estimated that 1 in 6 people, 48 million of us, got food poisoning in 2011, and 3,000 people died from it. On the Leonard Lopate show last Friday, Columbia University epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Morse mentioned that 30% of the population at any one time has diarrhea. That's crazy!!! Many of these viruses, food-borne bacteria and nasty germy germ germs (as opposed to the awesome ones that get along with our bodies) can be stopped dead in their tracks just by washing your hands before food comes in and after poop comes out.

Some people suggest singing Happy Birthday while washing to ensure you scrub up for at least 20 seconds. Ready to take your lathering to the next level? Check out THIS AWESOME SONG by kiddie rock superstar Amelia Robinson of Mil's Trills! "Wash Your Hands" was developed for a workshop we co-led last year, getting toddlers and their parents to talk about poop. The song has eight fun motions that go along with it to help you make sure your whole hand is clean. Her jazzy ukelele is so catchy, you'll still be singing it way past the 20 second mark. And you don't have to think of someone's birthday to sing it.

[audio mp3="http://www.thepoopproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Wash-your-hands-full.mp3"][/audio]

(Is the audio player not working? No worries! Click here: Wash Your Hands by Amelia Robinson of Mil's Trills)

Ready for the motions? If it's got an asterisk next to it, make sure you do it once for each hand. We got these from an excellent educational program for Global Handwashing Day 2010 by Tippy Tap, Grampari and WMG India. You can read more about that program in the pdf report HERE.

handwashing motions 1 handwashing motions 2

Wishing you a happy handwashing holiday.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

Diabolical Diarrhea

This World Health Day, I've got something on my mind: Diarrhea.

It may be one of the most visceral words in the English language. All it takes is four little syllables, and my mind's eye is immediately taken with images of splattering, squirting and sputtering explosions. It's a juvenile blend of disgust and delight that calls forth squeals of laughter; I suddenly find myself in the backseat of the car doing Mad Libs with my sister, making razzberries on my arm, or hoping that another member of my Oregon Trail family will get sick and die from dysentery (even though, as it turns out, they're not actually the same thing).

While it's called Montezuma's Revenge for a reason, the burning squirts can also be a lot of fun. Take the time I told my sister's entire 5th grade class that she was home sick with explosive diarrhea (well, don't take it, but check out the guest blog I wrote about it for DefeatDD.org).  Or the old children's song about it--you know, "Diarrhea, Diarrhea"?  As it turns out, that song not only lives on in our memories, but is enjoying an internet renaissance at The Official Diarrhea Song blog. In fact, they have dozens of original verses for your singing pleasure and a 5-step guide to help you craft the perfect stanza. Three of my favorites:

When you don’t feel like a winner and your butt blows out your dinner: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When you’re lounging by the pool and your ass begins to drool: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When you're miles from anywhere, and your bowels just don't care: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

Disgusting AND hilarious, right? Yet in many parts of the world, it's no laughing matter. In fact, 4,000 children will die from diarrheal disease today, as this poignant WaterAid video points out.


So what can you do about it?

Learn more. Visit DefeatDD.org or WaterAid for information and to get involved in the great work they're doing to bring effective, sustainable sanitation solutions around the world.

Wash your hands. Whether at home or abroad, hand washing with soap is the most cost-effective healthcare approach available, preventing the spread of disease and--BONUS!--making your fingers smell nice.

Spread the word! It's not hard to start a dialogue about diarrhea. Try posting it to your Facebook, Tweeting it, or starting an office sing-along of the old schoolyard song. At the very least, it'll be good for a laugh.

Wishing you all the best this World Health Day and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner