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Youth lend a hand to promote better health

Ador hosts a meeting.

Ador (pictured in a yellow T-shirt, at right) uses the hands-on approach in his teaching, by hosting meetings where all students have the opportunity to get involved.

Ador, a 12-year-old boy living in the Philippines, now knows that the solution to better health can be found right in the palm of his hand. That’s why he’s committed to educating his peers on how the simple task of hand washing can go on to improve the health of the entire community.

The use of clean water and sanitation techniques can help prevent the transmission of waterborne diseases and serious illnesses – particularly for children. And yet, more than 2.2 million children die every year – that’s four every minute – as a result of diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and hygiene.

Plan has worked to put a stop to these preventable deaths by helping produce sustainable, community-led water and sanitation systems for 6 villages in the Philippines – including Ador’s. “The change I wish for in our village is that all children have access to better education and sanitation, so that they are healthy and become empowered to participate in activities,” he confided.

At Plan, we know that children like Ador are catalysts for positive change, and that’s why we put them at the heart of our programs. This project involved school-based campaigns for youth participation, including the distribution of over 4,000 hygiene kits across 20 schools and the creation of Youth Peer Educator groups.

“The other children and I have become more aware of the importance of hand washing and the proper use of latrines in school. We know that this will promote good hygiene practices among children,” shared Ador.

Youth get a handle on health
Ador talks with peers.

Ador (in yellow) discusses the importance of latrines with his peers.

As one of 30 Youth Peer Educators selected through student governments in local schools, Ador has been attending training in sanitation and hygiene. “Because of the trainings I have attended, I became more confident in facilitating meetings for children,” he said.

Ador feels empowered thanks to his new knowledge, skills and role, and is eager to share what he has learned with his peers. “As my commitment, I also help in giving orientations to other children and youth, so that they will have better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as children,” he said. This way he can help improve peers’ health, while also helping them “gain self-confidence and friends, and contribute to the progress of the community.”

Thanks to generous donors, the number of families in the region with access to safe water for drinking and sanitation has doubled – vastly improving the lives, health and futures of thousands of people. Including children in these efforts has also encouraged parents to get involved, improving levels of community participation and promoting the project’s long-term sustainability.

“I am thankful to Plan for providing us with another school latrine and the hand-washing facility that we were dreaming of,” Ador expressed. “We are now practicing proper hand washing and the use of latrines as part of our hygiene and sanitation.”

Education and empowerment go hand in hand with a better life
Ador instructs classmates.

Ador uses visuals as a powerful teaching tool.

As one of the top 10 students in his Grade 6 class, Ador’s leadership is also reflected in his own schooling. But as much as he enjoys learning, he is already thinking ahead to how he can continue to help others. “When I finish my studies, I want to be a teacher to help educate children – especially the poor ones – to finish their studies to have brighter futures and get out of poverty,” he said.

Ador is a perfect example of what is possible when we invest in children. The new little leaders Gift of Hope supports some of the most vulnerable youth in the world, enabling them to know their rights and speak out on issues that effect them. Much like the small act of hand washing and the efforts of children like Ador, this Gift of Hope will expand its reach to improve the lives of many. When you purchase one today, it will be (4x) matched by our partners – empowering even more little leaders to affect big change!

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