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Our Rainbow Stick, 100 Messages to Collect, Learn and Share

It wasn’t just ZuZu and ZaZa the parrots that brought colour and movement to the Children for Health visit to Pakistan; Clare Hanbury also took a Rainbow Stick with her.

Zuzu and Zaza Perched upon the Rainbow Stick
ZuZu and ZaZa perched on the Rainbow Stick

Everywhere she went she took and explained the purpose of the Rainbow Stick and already it’s become a key symbol and learning tool for Children for Health’s core work.

Inspired, in part, by the ribbon sticks that were waved by children across the UK to greet the arrival of the Olympic flame last year, and looking for a way of representing The 100 Messages in an appealing visual manner, the idea of the Rainbow Stick was born…

Each ribbon or strip of fabric tied onto a stick represents one of Children for Health’s 100 messages.

Once the messages are localised and translated then… for every health message a child collects THEN learns THEN shares, they will receive a ribbon or strip of fabric in the appropriate colour. There will be NO ribbons given out for JUST learning the message. The message MUST be shared and children tell the story of that sharing experience!

There are 10 topics in the Children for Health collection, and each topic will have its own colour. For example, Malaria is RED. Each time the child learns and shares a malaria message they tie a shade of red ribbon or fabric to their stick. The 10 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene messages are represented by shades of bright BLUE; Nutrition, shades of bright GREEN. Children can learn one message from each topic or many/message from one topic – whichever suits the health-learning programme.

Children love to collect, they love to learn new things and they love to share. Each child will possess a Rainbow Stick of their own. Simple and cheap to make.

The colourful Rainbow Stick will inspire and motivate each child to collect as many ribbons as they can as they move through primary school, to help each other learn them well, to share stories how they shared the messages with other children and in their families.

With support from their families and teachers, the Rainbow Stick will enable each child to record their progress and have a teaching tool to use with younger children.

Just as children worldwide learn their ‘Times Tables’ until they can recite them, Children for Health aims to have all children knowing their ‘Health Times Tables’ the 10 x 10 up to 100 – the most important, 100 potentially life saving, simple health messages.

IMAGINE ! many hundreds of children graduating from primary school waving their Rainbow Stick as they go to show their parents assembled there that they have – among many other things – learned 100 essential health messages for life! What a scene this will be!

Each message on the Rainbow Stick can be shared with children and their families from a project base (like a school of health centre) by mobile phone as a text message or on the social media – for example as a tweet!

Children and their friends and teachers and schools may like to make up other messages and add new topics and shades of colour to the stick.

Clare with a collegue at the NRSP in Pakistan with the Rainbow Stick!
Clare with a colleague at the NRSP in Pakistan with the Rainbow Stick!

In Pakistan, the Rainbow Stick was a great introduction to the Children for Health 100 health messages. Instantly understood by teachers and health workers alike.