Germs trap, bin, wash and they're sorted

By Rosemary Roberts

The Towai room boys at Blomfield Special School thought the school's first session of the SneezeSafe respiratory hygiene programme was hilarious as tutor Emma Parry puffed a spray-mist over the table to show how far "nasty germs" travel when someone sneezes.

Even more hilarious was when glitter was sprinkled on hands to show how germs travelled when someone sneezed into their hands and touched surfaces and people. It didn't take long for the glitter to get right around the group, (hand-shaking helped) and just like germs, the stuff stuck on skin until the hands were washed.

Next came the bubble attack, making the point again about how far sneeze-propelled droplets will travel. The bubble demonstration caused some slight alarm. Emma on damage control: "They are only bubbles. I promise it is not bugs".

Change of subject: "What happens next when bugs from sneezes land on this table? We eat and we do our work and we read our books, don't we?"

The Towai boys: "Oooh yuck".

Then their tutor played cheerleader.

"What comes out when you sneeze? Bugs. Are they good for you? No. Did you know bugs can last for over an hour? No."

Emma calls for a sneezy volunteer. Dylan: "Aah choo! Aaaah choooo!"

Then, startlingly, there's loud spluttering, the perfect lead-in to the tissue technique discussion. Cue the awarding of SneezeSafe tissue stickers: "Trapped, Binned, Washed, SORTED!".

There is a nose-blowing demonstration and then the big question: What do you do with the tissue?

It doesn't go on the table does it? No. The session ends after the handwashing demonstration, with Darcy Harris, 16, who spluttered, going though the full soaping, rinsing and thoroughly drying routine.

Emma, an occupational therapist who teaches social and life skills at the school, says Blomfield is one of 50 "model" schools following the SneezeSafe programme.

The programme, backed by a wide range of health providers and educators, aims to keep children well through winter by improving respiratory hygiene.

Kleenex has been offering the programme free to New Zealand schools since 2005.

Blomfield Special School has always tutored its students in hygiene but this is the first time the message has been delivered through SneezeSafe.

A good time was had by all.

- Northern Advocate

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