by Melissa Blosser
Bethany DuVarney, Public Health Educator for the Lassen County Department of Public Health Department, collaborated with a group of students from the Diamond View Drama Club to create a skit “Jeremy the Germ and the Germinators,” and a community wide hand washing awareness campaign.
Now the skit has earned national recognition, winning a program called the SNAP (School Network for Absenteeism Prevention) that encourages middle school and high school students to create campaigns to promote the importance of hand washing to prevent illness.
“I believe a message is more powerful when kids teach kids,” said DuVarney when talking about how she envisioned the skit. “I had the idea of creating a skit with a germ costume but wasn’t sure how to implement it. While researching different flu education strategies, I came across the SNAP (School Network for Absenteeism Prevention) competition. I instantly knew this would be a perfect opportunity to get students involved, bring the skit to life, and create a whole campaign around it,” she said.
DuVarney approached a group of students from Diamond View school to ask for volunteers to help her implement the campaign in the community.
A group of six girls, Mazzy Schmidt, Clarissa Faustino, Abby Cooper, Vanessa Rios, Mykela Nimmo and Samantha Tiffany formed a group and began developing the script for “Jeremy the Germ and the Germinators.”
“The student’s creativity contributed everything to the campaign from their wonderful team name to the posters they made, to the funny details in the skit and radio PSA. They truly made the project their own which made it worthy of a national award,“ said DuVarney.
The group performed the skit at several different locations within the Susanville School district as well as launched a full community awareness campaign by making posters, creating public service announcements, designing a display for U.S. Bank and talking with people outside of Walmart about the importance of hand washing.
The campaign became a hit on a local level and is now a national award winning campaign through SNAP. The group was awarded $5,000 and will be flown to Washington D.C. over the summer to meet members of congress.
Members from the Center Disease Control and American Cleaning Institute will also be coming to Susanville to honor the students for their hard work and creativity
DuVarney has big plans for the future of the campaign. “I would love to get Jeremy Germ established with a professional costume, storybook and more than can be shared for years to come,” she said.