Students put their ‘Clean Hands Up!’

“Because you’re so special, I’m going to contaminate each and every one of you,” Barbara Crow told a class of fourth graders.

A Community Relations Specialist for Louisville Water Company, Crow then quickly assured the Field Elementary School students that the glob of goo she was going to put on their palms wasn’t actually full of germs. It was just a mixture of hand lotion and fluorescent tempera paint.

The students rubbed it all over their hands and then lined up to wash it off in the restroom. When they got back to their seats, Crow turned out the overhead lights and held a blacklight over their hands to show how thoroughly they’d cleaned. If they missed spots — and many of them did miss places between their fingers and around their nails — the fake germs glowed bright green. Crow then gave the students tips on how to wash more effectively.

This “Clean Hands Up!” lesson was part of a recent Louisville Water blitz in the Crescent Hill neighborhood to help combat the cold and flu season. Field Elementary teacher Laurie Andriot said she requested handwashing tips for her students after learning about Louisville Water’s free education programs at the company’s most recent Adventures in Water Festival, which is held every fall to offer local schools dozens of water-related activities.

Andriot said handwashing instruction was especially timely for her students because a stomach bug had been going around the school, and she thought the engaging lesson that Crow provided would not only help the students learn how to really clean but also impress upon them the importance of regular handwashing.

Clean Hands Up! also teaches students how germs spread and how to properly block them when they cough or sneeze.

Louisville Water educators and Bellarmine nursing students teach the lesson year round. In addition, Louisville Water has taught Clean Hands Up! to Moore High School students, who are now teaching elementary students too.

The blitz in Crescent Hill also will include the Sproutlings Day Care on Frankfort Avenue, the St. Joseph Children’s Home, the St. Joseph Childhood Development Center/Preschool, and after-school and senior programs at United Crescent Hill Ministries.

Handwashing lessons are part of Louisville Water’s overall education program, which provides free educators to more than 100 schools every year (see the map on the next page). The instructors perform experiments that help students develop knowledge and skills in health, science, social studies, math and literacy.

If you’re involved in an organization that wants to book the handwashing program, send email to