School students will spread health messages in the three districts of Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chennai

If you have to get a message across to an entire generation of people, the best way to do it is by targeting children.

They absorb the message, carry it home and follow it for years to come. At least, that is what the southern region of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) believes.

It has decided to use this method to spread health-related messages among a generation of children in the three districts of Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chennai.

The awareness programme, to be conducted by CII along with Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Foundation for Health Education, will target 10,000 students in select schools in the three districts, focusing on personal hygiene and health of women and children.

“We want to give information to a generation of children and adolescents. Children in secondary schools will be taught the significance of washing their hands before and after using the bathroom, the need to bathe and clean their teeth daily and its role in preventing infections,” said Varma Vegesna, chairman, healthcare sub-committee, CII, southern region.

The children will be divided into different age groups, and different educational materials will target them. For instance, among children in the five to 10 years group, the focus will be on immunisation. “The child in school will be taught to ask the parents about immunisation schedules. By creating awareness in the older child, it will cover the younger children in the family too,” Dr. Vegesna said.

Older children, from the age of 11 years, will be given sex education and taught road safety practices like riding a bicycle on the right side of the road.

“That is the age they start riding bicycles and teaching them the right techniques will ensure they follow them throughout their lives. The students will also learn about fundamental biological changes and how to cope with them,” he added.

These messages will be provided by CII’s youth wing, the Young Indians.

On why Tamil Nadu was chosen over Andhra Pradesh or Kerala, Dr. Vegesna said the State had done well in health indices and it would be easier to get the message across. Besides better educational levels here, CII’s youth wing also had a strong presence in the State.

The funding for the project will come from the local industry. The project will initially cover urban areas and then move to peri-urban and rural areas. “We want to bring the change in one generation. Then it will be carried forward,” Dr. Vegesna added.

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