Health initiative launch

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Sesame Workshop, J&J on board

JOHNSON and Johnson (J&J) and Sesame Workshop launched critical health and hygiene multimedia resources for children and caregivers in the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) last week.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation (NPO) behind South Africa’s popular educational TV programme Takalani Sesame, identified the need to combat the high mortality rate among children under five from preventable illnesses resulting from poor hygiene.

“Data draws our attention to the importance of prevention in illnesses such as diarrhea, which can be very serious in young children,” director of educational programmes at Sesame Workshop Nada Elattor, said.

“Our new resources teach children and caregivers about washing hands, food and accessing clean water. Healthy habits are important in preventing diseases.”

Featuring the muppets from Takalani Sesame, the new digital and print resources concentrate on preventative health practices.

PLAY AND LEARN: Children from Hope School interact with ‘ Takalani   Sesame ’ muppet Neno, operated by Damon Berry at the launch of new multimedia resources for children and their caregivers focusing on health, hygiene and nutrition Picture: SARAH KINGON
PLAY AND LEARN: Children from Hope School interact with ‘ Takalani Sesame ’ muppet Neno, operated by Damon Berry at the launch of new multimedia resources for children and their caregivers focusing on health, hygiene and nutrition Picture: SARAH KINGON

The resources will reach at least 90000 children and 6000 caregivers in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

Eastern Cape Sesame Workshops rep Margaret Irvine said the pilot project in BCM with WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) involves working with 60 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDC) in a six-week training programme.

“Children will learn about one theme a week and take a picture book home to read with parents. At the end of the six weeks, we will meet with parents to assess and improve the programme. We hope to begin a culture of books in the home too,” Irvine said.

Resources include a Healthy Play App, Healthy Play print content and WASH kits. The Healthy Play App is preloaded on android phones or is available free from the Google Play Store or on the Takalani Sesame website teaching children fun, character-based healthy habits.

The print content includes printed versions of the app activities, a wall poster about WASH behaviours and a story pond play mat to build stories about healthy wash practices.

WASH kits include books for facilitators and children.

Co-founder of Takalani Sesame’s Kwasukasukela, production company Sepati Hopa said: “This is an important educational programme due to the health risks in rural areas where access to water is difficult.”

Manager of environmental services at BCM Andile Falati said: “We jumped at the opportunity to partner with Takalani to conquer the mammoth task of promoting health and hygiene. We are highly appreciative of the initiative and hope it will assist rural and township ECDCs.”

Site director for J &J’s East London manufacturing plant Michelle Williams said the launch was a “celebration of work for kids in the Eastern Cape”.

“We strongly believe in the power of health education through traditional and non-traditional [mobile] channels.”

To find out more about this or access the resources, please visit: www.takalanisesame.co.za/healthyplay

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