Skelmersdale to Stockholm: How primary school children from Lancashire are helping to teach the world about preventing illnessPublished: 2018-11-21 03:16
Working in corporate communications can be quite random at times and that’s what makes it so interesting. One such random event happened to me this September when I flew out to Stockholm to attend the opening of an international photography exhibition.
I was invited to attend the opening of Essity’s Hand-to-Hand exhibition at the Fotografiska art gallery in Stockholm. I’m not very artsy, and by that I mean I am the most un-artsy person ever, but nonetheless it sounded like a great opportunity to spend a couple of days in Stockholm and meet some lovely colleagues in person that I’d only ever spoken to via conference call.
The reason I was invited was because the exhibition features photography from a project I’ve been working on in the UK raising awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in primary schools in order to prevent the spread of illness. Here’s a short video to tell you more.
A few weeks beforehand, renowned Swedish photographer Asa Sjostrom visited a primary school close to one of our manufacturing sites in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. Asa spent two days following the children and capturing all of the things that little hands get up to during the school day. From playing in the school garden, to working with paint and clay, and from PE to playtime, little hands don’t stop. The message is simple… We must teach our children to wash their hands if we want to prevent the quick and easy spread of germs and bacteria. The photographs that Asa captured are incredible.
Upon arriving at the exhibition, I knew that the school hygiene photographs were only a small part of a much bigger story about the importance of hygiene worldwide, but what I hadn’t realised was how impactful the rest of the exhibition would be.
You very quickly realise with a sudden thud how fortunate you are to live in a world where running water and sanitation is a given. The exhibition featured photography from Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Syria to name just a few places where the simple challenge of staying healthy through clean hands is not so simple at all. I saw photography of a single Dad bathing his new born son in filthy water because that’s his only option. I saw pictures of children walking mile after mile every day to collect drinking water that most us would consider to dirty to wash a car with. I saw images of hospital conditions where the primary cause of death is sepsis.
I went to Stockholm inside a little bubble thinking hand hygiene is quite important in preventing colds and flu, and came away exposed to the fact that hand hygiene literally means life or death for millions. Essity is raising awareness of these extreme issues and contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Before I’d seen this exhibition, I didn’t truly understand how important that is.
Take a look at the digital version of the exhibition and read the stories here: