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Fostering a Culture of Health: Empowering Communities through Lifebuoy’s Play and Learn Approach on Global Handwashing Day

October 20, 2023

By: Parnil Sarin, Brand Director, Lifebuoy Unilever

As we commemorate another Global Handwashing Day, the importance of this annual event takes on an even more significant meaning in the context of the challenges the world has faced in recent times. Hand hygiene has proven to be one of the most effective and fundamental practices in preventing the spread of diseases.

For over a decade, Lifebuoy has remained steadfast in its unwavering mission to save lives through promoting hygiene. Our behaviour change model has served as the cornerstone of our initiatives, enabling us to reach and impact the lives of over a billion people. By integrating hygiene initiatives into the fabric of communities worldwide, we have strived to make handwashing with soap a norm, not an exception. Today, Lifebuoy proudly holds the title of the world’s leading germ protection soap brand.

In 2020, we initiated the H for Handwashing campaign, focusing on integrating hand hygiene education into school curricula. Recognising the critical role of education in driving behavioral change, we implemented strategies like peer-to-peer learning and the appointment of hygiene ambassadors. These efforts not only emphasised the importance of hand hygiene within educational settings but also encouraged students to become advocates for cleanliness in their own homes.

This year brought a new challenge. Despite the global attention to hand hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic, we noticed a troubling decline in hand hygiene practices worldwide. Various factors contribute to this, including complacency, limited awareness, inadequate resources, and the challenge of establishing habitual hygiene practices, especially in light of hygiene fatigue across the world. Thus, we needed something new.

The Power of Play

Recognising the power of play in learning and behaviour change, Lifebuoy evolved the H for Handwashing campaign into the “Play and Learn” methodology—a strategy that seamlessly blends the joy of games with essential hand hygiene lessons. This innovative approach aims not just to teach, but to instil handwashing as a cherished and lifelong habit.

Taking inspiration from universally loved board games, we embarked on a creative journey in collaboration with leading toy and game company, Imagimake, to reimagine and adapt them with a focus on hand hygiene. The result was the “H for Handwashing Games Kit”, a collection of four reimagined board games: “Germs & Ladders”, “Handwashing Ludo”, “Soap-Tac-Toe”, and “Lose the Germs”. The team meticulously crafted these games to resonate with children while driving home the message of hand hygiene. Innovative play interventions were designed to create meaningful learning experiences through play.

The H for Handwashing Games combine credibility with design precision. Crafted in collaboration with specialists and experts in behaviour change, child development, game design, and public health, these games were tested for their effectiveness among 190 children aged 5-8 years in a school in Mumbai.

The results speak for themselves:

  • A five-fold surge in awareness of key handwashing with soap occasions.
  • A 17X improvement in knowledge of handwashing with soap steps.
  • A 42% improvement in understanding of handwashing with soap as a shield against diseases.
  • Nearly double the familiarity with germ hotspots and transmission mechanisms.
  • An improvement in handwashing behaviours, with nearly 40% more children practicing handwashing with soap before eating at school, using correct handwashing steps, and reminding their peers to wash hands with soap.

Join the Handwashing Revolution
As we continue our journey, we invite organisations from all sectors to join us in our mission to champion handwashing with soap. Our extensive array of tested and proven hand hygiene materials caters to a diverse range of programs and advocacy efforts. Together, let’s make handwashing a joyful and lifelong habit for the health and well-being of generations to come.


Category: Community Forum

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