Wash Your Hands! – A Student Poster Project

This semester, 15 undergraduate students from across disciplines at Lesley University, enrolled in my class Technology & Design—a computer elective offered through the Communications Division of the undergraduate school. The focus of the course is to teach students the basics of visual communication through computer-based design. Using current design software, students learned how to create still and moving graphics and professional print communications.

My  approach to teaching is an experiential one. I believe that the more real world experiences and scenarios I can expose my students to, the more engaged they will be with their coursework. As part of my curriculum, I lecture on social responsibility and using design to communicate important social issues and to ignite change. It is also important to me that what I do in the class reflects the Lesley University mission of preparing students to be “catalysts who shape a more humane and sustainable world.”

This year, I created a poster project in collaboration with the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing. The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing’s focus is to promote healthy handwashing practices, particularly among children.

Each year, the organization sponsors Global Handwashing Day (GHD), a worldwide event encouraging communities to create service opportunities and educational programs for the promotion of healthy handwashing habits.

Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. (source: http://www.globalhandwashingday.org)

Over 14 weeks, my students worked on developing and creating a poster in support of GHD 2011.  Students were required to work in groups to define a messaging strategy, create a color pallet, select a typeface and develop a creative concept.  The only requirements were that the poster be tabloid size (11″x17″) and include the GHD logo and be respectful of existing GHD visual guidelines. The poster also needed to appeal to young audiences. A total of four poster designs were created.

In addition to sharing the electronic files with the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing,  Hollis New Hampshire based printing company Puritan Pres, Inc. has donated the reproduction of the four posters so they can be distributed to  Lesley University’s collaborative partner schools as well as local Children’s Museums.

Global Handwashing Day 2011 will take place on October 15 and focus on school age children. Over the course of a week, it is estimated that millions of people from 80 countries will participate, highlighting the importance of handwashing with soap. To Learn more about GHD, or visit the GHD facebook page.

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