Schools worldwide are getting kids to talk toilets.

December 7, 2009

Schools worldwide are getting kids to talk toilets.   Although the Summit didn’t focus on educating kids about sanitation and toilet use in their schools, the importance programs in schools was salient.  It seems to be something everyone is doing.  And the messages flow from the school to home and community.

IMG_9005Tan Puay Hoon introduced us to the school children manning the booth of the Restroom Association of Singapore at the Expo.   These kids were charged and the training was obviously producing take charge kids.  While Singapore is perhaps not the best model for global education, they do have experience in starting the conversation very early, as in  Happy Toilet School Education for Preschools.

Before launching his successful toilet cleaning business in Johanesburg, Trevor Malaudzi had a comfortable life of a high salary professional.   One day saw some kids on the street and pulled over to ask them why they weren’t in school.  They said the school toilets were filthy and they had to leave the premises to find a clean toilet.  So Trevor said show me.  He was appalled.   If filthy toilets were compromising the well-being of a generation of post-apartheid students, he needed to check it out.  Other schools were the same.

“God told me if I looked the other way now, nothing would change, ” says Trevor.   So he quit his job and launched The Clean Shop, which contracts with schools for restroom repair, maintenance and cleaning.   Many toilets require a complete redesign and rebuild.  To sustain the benefits of the work, Trevor devotes much of his time to talking to kids.    Now his former colleagues exclaim, “After meeting you, my daughter has been noticing drips on the floor in front of the toilet.  You have embarrassed us into paying attention to our behavior!”

The champion of education in the US schools is Tom Keating of Project Clean. Perhaps PHLUSH ought to try to bring him to Portland to launch a program in selected elementary schools.  The youngest kids often get it the quickest when it comes to the links between personal respect and restrooms, human dignity and adequate sanitation.

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Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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