With cold and flu season closing in, children’s librarian Amanda Hairston is doing her part to make sure the children who come to her library are armed with the information they need to stay healthy. And she’s doing it in a way that is not only fun, but will stay with them for some time to come.

“I always want to remind kids about good hygiene, especially when we’re coming up on cold and flu season,” Hairston said.

There were about 15 people that came to last Thursday’s family night at the Harker Heights library, and while Hairston’s program for the evening was designed with kids in mind, providing a lot of fun for them, it also gave the adults in the audience some interesting and practical facts, keeping everyone engaged.

Hairston began with a riddle: What is something you can give to everyone that they will never want? The answer: Germs!

Hairston then asked the children, “What could you do 33 percent of the time to prevent passing germs to another person?” The answer was, wash your hands.

She told her audience, “The CDC suggests you wash your hands for 20 seconds in warm water with soap,” and then she introduced the germ kit.

The germ kit contained liquid that contained simulated germs and rubbed into the children’s hands like lotion, and which glowed brightly under a UV light. This showed each child what their hands would look like unwashed.

With one child serving as the “control,” or “dirty bird,” remaining unwashed, the other children were assigned different groups: group one washed their hands with soap for 10 seconds; group two washed for 20 seconds with no soap; and group three for 20 seconds with soap.

Then they checked their hands under the UV light again, with the third group showing the most improvement. This showed the children the importance of good hand washing, and sent the children back to the sink all on their own to wash their hands yet again in an attempt to get more of their “germs” off their skin.

Debbie Cox, who brought her grandsons Michael, age 5, and Asher, age 3, said, “My daughter really instills hygiene in them, so this really backs up what she’s teaching them. It enhances what they’re learning at home.”

At the end of the evening, and once the children had washed their hands to their satisfaction, Hairston told them, “You can’t live without germs — there are germs and bacteria that are healthy.”

Ashley Wyatt brought her daughter, four-year-old Emma Wyatt, and said, “This is a really neat way to educate them about germs, teaching them about using the soap to keep them from getting the flu.”

The children were still talking about their experience as they were leaving.

Hairston said, “It (the lesson) does not lose its impact from year to year. It’s always successful.”

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