Preventing the Spread of Viruses

The BGCA Youth Development team is committed to responding to what is happening in the lives of youth. Today, National Director of Youth Development Programs Danielle Morris is here with the latest on keeping Club staff and youth healthy. This post is part of our special series on the Coronavirus outbreak.

I bet you’ve never associated Benjamin Franklin with preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19). In 1736, Ben Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” What he meant was that it’s better and easier to stop a problem before it becomes a problem. Clubs, staff and youth can play an important role in preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19 before it becomes a problem. Let’s explore the two ways you can keep yourself and others healthy: Prevent fear by knowing the facts and WASH-UP.

ONE: Prevent Fear by Knowing the Facts

One of the most powerful tools in preventing fear (and the spread of diseases) is by knowing the facts. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?: COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel (new) coronavirus. In Latin, “corona” means crown. Under a microscope, the virus looks like it’s wearing lots of tiny crowns. Scientists and doctors are learning more and more about this new virus and how it spreads every day.

You can find an excellent four minute video primer for youth on the coronavirus, including some educator resources, at BrainPOP.


How does it spread?: From what we know, the coronavirus is mostly spread from one person to another, and by touching unclean surfaces and objects covered by the virus. When spread from person-to-person, the individual infected with the virus may cough or sneeze, releasing tiny droplets containing the virus into the air. These droplets can be inhaled by someone standing nearby. If an infected person uses their hand to cover their mouth, droplets will coat their hand. If their hands are not promptly washed, droplets will be spread by touching common surfaces like door handles and sports equipment. The virus can be picked up by anyone else who touches those same unclean surfaces and objects, and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose.

What are common symptoms of COVID-19?: Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe: a high fever, a cough you can’t seem to get rid of, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms are very similar to the flu, which you or someone you know may have experienced this winter. Because the symptoms are common to many other illness, someone may not even know they have COVID-19.

Generally, kids have strong, healthy immune systems that prevent them from getting the most severe symptoms. Those at risk for getting the sickest are older adults with existing health conditions that might have weakened their ability to fight off the virus. If you are having any of these symptoms, speak to a health care professional.

Who is at risk for catching COVID-19?: According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), most people in the United States are at a low risk for coming in contact with the virus. However, because of the intense global media coverage, fear, anxiety and incorrect information are spreading faster than the virus itself. This combination may make it easy to place blame or fault about the spread of the disease on others because of where they have been, where they are from or what they look like. Rather than blaming people, fight the virus by staying informed and following recommendation two: WASH-UP.

TWO: WASH-UP to Prevent Spreading COVID-19

What can I do to prevent myself and others from getting sick?: Right now, scientists from across the globe are working around the clock to develop a vaccine that prevents the spread of the COVID-19. In the meantime, you can use the acronym, WASH-UP, as a reminder of the simple, everyday things you can do to keep yourself and others healthy.

Prevent the Spread of Viruses by Remembering to WASH-UP!
Click for a printable PDF of this image

Wipe objects and surfaces regularly with disinfectant cleaners

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Stay at home if you’re feeling sick

Hands should be regularly washed for 20 seconds with warm soap and water

Use your elbow or tissue to cover coughs or sneezes

Pass along these helpful tips!

Get youth and teens involved in preventing fear and the spread of COVID-19 by trying out a few of these activities:

  • Challenge youth to develop their own healthy reminders. We came up with the acronym, WASH-UP, as a reminder of the simple things we can all do throughout the day to prevent the spread of germs, like COVID-19. Challenge youth and teens to develop their own acronym. Post creative acronyms around the Club. Get youth and teens to develop reminder songs. Use art to tell the story about how to keep everyone healthy.
  • Host a handwashing demo. Not everyone knows that proper handwashing requires soap, warm water, scrubbing between fingers and under fingernails, and should last for at least 20 seconds. Host a handwashing demo for youth to practice good handwashing skills. Consider teaching youth to wash their hands while singing the song, “Happy Birthday” twice. When the song is over, youth will know they’ve washed long enough. Come up with a long list of reasons people should wash their hands.
  • Host fun activities at hand sanitizing stations. Look, we know that handwashing is best but isn’t always going to be an option- think about the bus ride between school pick-up and Club drop-off. The next best option is to set up hand sanitizing stations around the Club- in the gym, in each program room, in the Gamesroom, and on the bus. Ensure that the hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol, which you can check by reading the product label. Again, the same rules of handwashing apply to using hand sanitizer- 20 seconds to thoroughly apply. Lastly, remember that staying healthy can and should be fun! Post flyers with cool trivia about viruses, tips to help kids stay healthy, and quick emotional check-ins.
  • Play Disease Detective. Using this interactive online tool (looks like it works best in Internet Explorer FYI), youth can explore what it’s like to be an epidemiologist, or a scientist who investigates patterns in or causes of diseases. This game allows youth to investigate the reasons why campers in a national park have all become ill.
  • Keep youth informed. If your Club has developed a plan to prevent the spread of illnesses and address situations if someone gets sick, don’t keep it to yourself. Share your plans with youth and their families so they can stay informed. This also helps build trust and reaffirms your commitment to keeping everyone safe! If you haven’t developed a response plan yet, consider using these helpful resources from the CDC.

Sticking to these two big ideas will help you maintain a healthy Club environment for your youth and staff. Finally, be sure to calmly reassure any anxious youth that the adults around them are working to keep them safe, and that they can talk to you about any big feelings they are experiencing.

Check back in with the ClubX Blog often for more ideas and resources on how to maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time.  Stay safe.  Wash your hands.  Take care of yourself.  We are in this together! 

Get the latest updates from BGCA at, find programming ideas at, like the BGCA Youth Development on Facebook for YD updates including video from Sarah, and join the brand new BGCA Youth Development Community also on Facebook to connect with other Club staff on programming through coronavirus.

Danielle Morris

Danielle Morris is a proud member of the Youth Development team and has been committed to the Boys & Girls Movement for nearly 5 years. She keeps her finger on the pulse of youth development by working across Core Program Areas, and listening to and learning from Clubs! Danielle’s background is in Public Health- a fancy way of saying keeping people and communities healthy!


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One thought on “Preventing the Spread of Viruses

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  1. Thank you.

    Is there still a Safety Newsletter?

    It was also a great source of information re: current issues and needs related to Safety.

    I have been looking for it and for info on BGCA’s website re: Coronavirus, COVID-19.

    Please send more info and samples of correspondence for Clubs to use.

    Los Angeles and surrounding cities have declaired a State of Emergency and we are looking to BGCA for more resources.

    Thank you again!

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