Carihi students are fighting malaria in Africa–and hoping to bring Rick Mercer back to town.
Carihi high school Grade 11 French immersion social studies teacher Maureen Desrochers was watching the Rick Mercer Report last March when she first heard about the Spread the Net Student Challenge.
“I thought in the back of my mind that’s a fun thing to have my students do, to sort of get them involved,” said Desrochers. “It’s a good positive thing to talk about at school, what kids are doing.”
Spread the Net is a campaign to end malaria in Africa by donating mosquito nets, and in the Student Challenge, schools that raise the most money are featured on Canadian comedy icon Mercer’s show.
Mercer came to Campbell River in August and snorkeled with the salmon for a segment of his show, and as Desrochers is a loyal fan, she would like him to come back while at the same time donating to a good cause.
Students have until Feb. 29 to raise funds, and this is Carihi’s first year participating in the challenge, according to Desrochers. Her French immersion social studies class, and Grade 11 French class are taking part, as well as a leadership class and other students from the school. So far, she said things are going well.
“Whatever we earn is good. We’ve got $350 so far roughly, and we’ll see what happens,” said Desrochers. “I put my initial goal as being $2000, but who knows?”
She has incorporated the initiative into her social studies class and the kids will develop power point presentations and come up with their own fundraising ideas. She also plans to have them present their ideas to students at the middle schools to try to involve more of the community.
Some ideas so far are bake sales, donation jars in local businesses, penny drives and passing around collection jars at student leadership activities that take place in the school.
“There’s a few other things in the works that we’re hoping will work out but I can’t really say what they are, but we’re hoping this is going to expand more,” said Desrochers, who added that the students are “all enthusiastic about it.”
Grade 11 French immersion social studies student Emily Koopman collected about $150 through pledges already, and though she didn’t want to share details until fully planned, she is organizing a fundraiser. She hopes Carihi wins.
“I think it would be really good for our school because Campbell River doesn’t really get recognized that often,” said Koopman. “I think that it would be good if Carihi high won.”
Koopman fundraises for Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, in her spare time and said it’s important to help people who need it.
She said she thinks that raising money for mosquito nets is important.
“I just think that it’s a really good cause, and I just think it’s really important.”
The nets cost $10 each, and last year the winning high school, Espanola High School in Ontario, raised $13,307.91.
Elementary and post-secondary schools can enter the challenge too, and Mercer will visit the top scorer in each group.
According to the Spread the Net website, a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds. It’s the single biggest killer of children under the age of five, and accounts for one in five of all childhood deaths in Africa. Children sleep under the nets, which are teated with a long lasting insecticide, and their chances of contracting malaria are reduced by 50 per cent.
Campbell Riverites can watch for upcoming fundraisers put on by Carihi students, drop off donations at the school office, or contact Desrochers at Maureen.Desrochers@sd72.bc.ca. Cheques must be made payable to Spread the Net c/o The Belinda Stronach Foundation and are tax deductible.
Desrochers said she plans to reach out to the community for donations in the coming months.
“It would be nice to get the community involved and behind this,” she said, adding that she wants to raise as much as possible. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”