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Rufus starts P1

Rufus starts P1

Rufus the Handwashing Hero helps teach P1 kids the importance of washing their hands

Wednesday 2nd September 2020:  safefood in partnership with the Department of Education have today launched a handwashing resource in over 1500 primary schools and pre-school settings in Northern Ireland to help teach young children good handwashing habits. 

As children in Northern Ireland return to school, good hand hygiene is one of those important skills to help protect themselves and their families.   

Called ‘Rufus the Handwashing Hero’, this free educational pack is designed for very young children who are still learning literacy skills and will help them with the transition from pre-school to primary school. 

Using a song, story and strong visual identity, the pack has been distributed to all pre-schools and P1 classes of primary schools across Northern Ireland to help make learning about handwashing habits fun and engaging for children under 5. 

Rufus is a big, friendly, furry cartoon monster who encourages children to follow five key steps to good handwashing – wet, soap, rub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry. He also helps children learn when to wash their hands often and regularly, especially before eating, after playing outside, and after using the toilet. 

Endorsing the introduction of the ‘Rufus the Handwashing Hero’ educational resource to all primary schools and pre-schools in Northern Ireland, Education Minister Peter Weir said: “The safefood Rufus Handwashing campaign is a targeted way to communicate the importance of correct and regular handwashing for young children and those entering the education system. The campaign highlights the key times at which children should be washing their hands, including when they enter the home, before they eat, after using the toilet and playing outside.

“I’m pleased the Rufus Handwashing packs are now being delivered to all pre-schools and primary one classes in Northern Ireland for use from the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year. With the re-opening of school and pre-school settings it is more important than ever that children learn to wash their hands often and regularly throughout the day, under the careful guidance of teachers, pre-school leaders and parents at home. This is especially important to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Regular and thorough attention to hand hygiene is essential to deter spread of the virus.”

Ray Dolan, Chief Executive safefood continued: “Handwashing is one of the most important life skills we can teach children from a young age. ‘Rufus’ is a fun, friendly character with a big personality and we’ve created him to engage and educate young minds. We are providing all P1 classes in primary schools and pre-schools in Northern Ireland with our storybook, catchy song and our easy-to-remember five steps of handwashing – Wet; Soap; Rub; Rinse and Dry as part of the education pack. This pack also contains extra reusable posters for children to bring home, so they can learn at home with their parents too.” 

For more information on the ‘Rufus the Handwashing Hero’ or how to order a schools pack, visit:  


For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

Russell Lever 
ASG & Partners
Mob: 077 8828 8901 
Email: [email protected] 


Dermot Moriarty 
Tel: 00353 1 448 0600
Mob: 00353 86 381 1034 
[email protected]

Editor’s Notes:
The free education resource – Rufus the Handwashing Hero - features an illustrated storybook, song, and sticker set. It also includes a waterproof sink poster for children to take home to their parents to encourage good handwashing habits at home. 

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