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  • Roanne Duran

#IdeasPositiveRun5: Dancing Against Dengue

A group of students from St. Louis University combines arts, games and dance to raise dengue awareness and prevention among school kids in a dumpsite community in Baguio City.

What do playing a children’s board game, decorating your own tumbler, and dancing to the tune of Uptown Funk all have in common?

For Team PLA of Baguio City, they’re all tools to eradicate – or “sugpo” – mosquito-borne diseases. Their chosen community is Purok 17 in Brgy. Irisan, a dumpsite community with the highest incidence of dengue cases in the city last year – a situation that the team is determined to change.

To do that, the group of Biology students from St. Louis University – Ezra John Bides, David Marco Bildan, Dhenize Rommenick Ollero, Dana Danieli Dañas and Frances Louise Fadlen – came up with the Sugpoquito Educational Program. It combines arts, games and dance to raise dengue awareness and prevention among school kids in the barangay.

Critical to their success was forming the SugpoQuiddos, a children’s organization. Every week, the group gathers the SugpoQiddos at the barangay day care center to teach them about dengue, personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness. These lessons are complemented with fun and creative activities, such as the Suqgpoquito board game and dance moves, to ensure that the kids remember what they learn and apply it in their homes.

To run these activities properly, the group rounded up their classmates and friends, who formed a band of energetic volunteers.

On average, 50 kids attend the Sugpoquito classes each week. One of them is Mary Anne, 11, who not only attends the classes, but also brings her younger brother and sister with her.

Nagka-dengue po kasi ako nung bata ako. Kaya po ako nandito kasi ayoko na magka-dengue ulit,” (I've had dengue before. I'm here because I don't want to have dengue again,) shares Mary Anne. “Sinasama ko po yung mga kapatid kasi ayoko din pong magka-dengue sila.” (I bring my siblings here because I don't want them to have dengue as well.)

Fourth grader Wilmark also makes sure that he and his classmates attend the Sugpoquito classes, saying, “Ayokong magka-dengue ang classmates ko, kasi pag nagkasakit sila wala na akong kalaro." (I don't want my classmates to have dengue because I won't have playmates then.)

While the children may look like they’re just having fun during Sugpoquito classes, parents attest that what the children learn as SugpoQuiddos are applied in their own homes. For instance, their kids now know how to wash their hands properly; identify where dengue-carrying mosquitos breed; and keep their surroundings clean.

It was not just the SugpoQuiddos who’ve changed because of the project. Even Team PLA members and volunteers, who give up their weekends and free time to be with the kids, are moved.

Na-realize namin the things that really matter,” (we realize the things that really matter,) says Dana. “Nauubos ang time namin sa pag-aaral, pero bakit ba kami nag-aaral? Para din naman sa community. Eto na yung ginagawa namin ngayon. “ (All our time is spent in school, but the very reason we study is to serve the community. That 's exactly what we're doing now.)

Like the rest of the Ideas Positive Run 5 teams, Team PLA has two more months to implement their project. And like the rest of the teams, they’ve cracked their own formula to solve their chosen health issue: one positive idea, combined with creativity and some crazy dance moves, multiplied by young people with a heart to change the community.

This article is part of the #IdeasPositiveRun5 series, which documents the transformation of 14 communities through innovative ideas of 14 youth teams. Follow their story as they build a healthier Philippines, one community at a time! Visit the Ideas Positive official Facebook page.

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