More than half of early child deaths are preventable or treatable. Little basic knowledge of, or access to, healthcare robs millions of children – and their families - of their happiness, livelihoods and futures. Yet through sport and play simple health messages can be widely conveyed and reinforced. For example, a game of tag can teach children how to avoid catching malaria or demonstrate the importance of the immune system to fight infection, in a way they can easily understand and remember.
At Right To Play we promote good health, giving children the knowledge to:
- Prevent and manage chronic disease. Prevent and manage infectious disease.
- Enhance their mental and physical health.
- Reduce the direct and indirect health care costs for them and their communities.
We do this by using our unique approach of sport and play as a tool. We promote good hygiene practices such as hand washing to avoid preventable diseases; encourage better nutrition and physical exercise; challenge and reduce stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS; teach about the prevention and treatment of HIV and malaria; improve water quality and sanitation; educate on sexual and reproductive health; run social awareness events on health issues; and tackle cultural structures that prevent women having access to health education or health facilities.
Just five years ago, typhoid was one of the main preventable diseases affecting the community of Kampala in Uganda. One of the major reasons for this was a lack of understanding about hygiene and sanitation in slum areas.
Right To Play runs programmes in the local primary school. We teach children about hygiene practices including washing their hands and brushing their teeth. But not having a place to clean their hands meant that children couldn't act on the skills they were learning.
We worked with the director of the school to have a water tank installed with safe water. Children are now able to use water from the tank to wash their hands and brush their teeth.
As a result, the incidence of water-borne diseases has been in steady decline ever since, as not only the children who attend our programmes carry out safe hygiene practices, but they pass these on to family, friends and other members of the community.
82% of children in Uganda who have attended our programmes wash their hands after using the toilet, compared to 65% of children who have not attended our programmes.