Ahmed came back from school shouting out to his mother and telling her that he has got a certificate of appreciation and was honoured with an award at school. When she looked at the award, she found the fleur-de-lis symbol on it. Although the mother very well knew that this emblem referred to Scouting, she desired to know more about the experiences of her son in winning this award. The young boy told his mother that the Scout group in the school had organised a campaign for increasing awareness of sanitation and especially washing hands before meals to protect us against many diseases. He told his mother that he was now not only very keen himself to wash his hands each time before eating during the breaks at school, and that he has also managed to convince 15 of his school mates to do so. As a result, the Scout group in the school had granted Ahmed this award and the certificate for his valuable contribution in the campaign. The mother was so pleased with this experience of her son that she made a post on Facebook appreciating this encounter of her son with Scouting.
The Facebook post travelled widely in the world of Internet and social media and was noticed by the leaders of the Arab Scout Region. This experience pushed the Arab Region to approach more National Scout Organizations (NSOs) in the Region to extend the project. The Region enjoys a strong basis of Scouting In Schools with more than one third of their NSOs having very high percentage of Scouting built around the school infrastructure. The opportunity of reaching out to a high portion of the Arab school children via such projects in schools appealed to everyone and a new initiative was born. All these NSOs hold strong partnerships with both ministries of education and health in their respective governments and the idea was to collaborate with these ministries to contribute to health campaigns in schools.
As a next step, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides Association of Jordan (which had already initiated a pilot project on health awareness in schools) hosted a workshop and meeting for the executives of community development from NSOs in the Arab Region. 72 participants took part in the meeting representing 9 NSOs, namely: Jordan, Tunisia, Sudan, Palestine, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt and Morocco in addition to the Arab Regional Office of the World Scout Bureau.
The key objectives of the workshop were
• Communicating successful experiences and ideas on Scouting’s contribution to enhancing healthy habits in schools.
• Identifying features of health programmes suitable to be undertaken by Scouts in the school environment.
• Explaining the process of health awareness campaigns in schools.
• Preparing guidelines for Scouts to perform their roles in the promotion of healthy habits in schools.
The Workshop was a big success through the successful achievement of the above-mentioned objectives. The participants also had the opportunity to visit the Scout groups in Jordan that had won the bronze, silver and golden awards for the campaign by Jordanian Scouts for increasing awareness of healthy habits in schools. The workshop participants also visited the Royal Academy for the Blind, which has an excellent model with high standard healthy meal served at schools.
Recommendations from the workshop
• Integrating the concept of enhancing healthy habits in schools into the Scout activities and designing a Scout badge on health and sanitary awareness.
• Improving the health and nutrition programmes at Scouting gatherings.
• Organizing Seminars for local Scout Groups on Scouting’s role in supporting healthy habits in schools.