Who knew how much international benefit and also good-spirited fun could be sparked by challenging schools and universities across the country against each other? Back in 2008, Rick Mercer dropped the gauntlet on his CBC Television program, The Rick Mercer Report, and the challenge that he issued was, in fact, against malaria.
Since 2008, Rick Mercer has been asking Canada’s universities, colleges, high schools, and now elementary schools to raise money to help Spread the Net purchase long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets that can be used for the prevention of malaria in families in Africa.
More than three billion people’s lives are threatened by malaria. Transmitted through parasite-carrying mosquito bites, this disease kills an estimated 655,000 people every year. Looking more closely, that includes 2,000 children who die from malaria every day — put succinctly, that’s one child every minute.
Treated bed nets have proven to be the least expensive and most effective device for preventing mosquito bites and killing mosquitoes on contact. Each net purchased through Spread the Net contains World Health Organization-approved insecticides. It can cover up to five children as they sleep and provide mosquito protection for up to five years without additional insecticide treatment.
The cost for each net, from purchase to distribution to community education and modest administrative costs, is just ten dollars. To date, thousands of Canadians have participated in Spread the Net — a program of The Belinda Stronach Foundation, a registered charity in Canada — successfully raising enough money to buy over 530,000 bed nets! As part of that campaign, The Spread the Net Student Challenge has raised close to one million dollars or enough to buy 100,000 nets.
What a great way to encourage young people to raise funds for the benefit of other young people across the globe. Everyone benefits from this charity effort, and schools that earn the most can also earn a televised visit from Rick Mercer — to be featured on the national public broadcaster across Canada on an episode of The Rick Mercer Report.