China Grove students donate $450 to help provide polio vaccination
By Sarah Campbell
CHINA GROVE — Ineke van der Meulen had children raise their hand, jump up and down and lift their feet Monday at China Grove Elementary School.
Then she asked them to imagine what it would be like if they couldn’t move freely because of a virus like polio.
“When you were little you got a vaccine, but some children don’t have access to it,” Meulen, assistant governor of Rotary Club’s District 7680, said.
Meulen told them that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still don’t have enough of the vaccine to go around and that’s where Rotary comes in.
“Rotary pledged in 1985 to raise funds to and assist in administering vaccine around the world and eradicate polio by our 100th birthday in 2005,” Jim Morton, the district’s polio chair, said. “Of course, we didn’t quite do that but we are down to four endemic countries with only a few hundred cases being reported yearly.”
China Grove’s Rotary Club was at the school Monday to spread the word about its quest to eliminate polio during World Polio Day.
The Rotary Club collected $1 from about 450 students to put toward the effort.
“For $1 we can make sure that every child in all the world can do what you guys can do today, raise your hand, lift your feet and do jumping jacks,” China Grove Elementary Principal Jenny White told the students.
Students who donated $1 were given a cookie and had their pinkies painted with purple dye. Children in other countries are marked with the dye to ensure that they only receive the vaccine once.
Morton said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation challenged Rotary International to match its $355 million grant with $200 million.
China Grove Rotary, which consists of only 10 members, has risen to that challenge, raising more than $6,000 for the cause.
This isn’t the first time China Grove Rotary has partnered with the elementary school, but the two plan to work together more closely this year.
“That’s why I joined Rotary,” White said, “because they were already doing things for the school before I got here. Through my involvement we’ve grown our partnership.”
White invited the Rotarians into the school to talk about polio for a simple reason.
“They need to know how lucky they are,” she said. “They need to know that just doing a little bit on their part can make a difference.”
As students lined up to get their pinkies painted, White congratulated them.
“You just inoculated a child in Africa so they can run and play just like you can,” she said. “That makes you a hero.”
Freda Richard, president of China Grove Rotary, said she was excited to be at the school Monday, spreading the word about what Rotary does.
“It’s a delight to work with these young people,” she said. “I went to this elementary school growing up.”
The school and club will continue working together throughout the year.
The school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) plans to help sell Christmas trees to raise funds for a scholarship offered through the club.
White said the school has also applied for a $10,000 grant through Rotary. If awarded the funds, the school plans to purchase iPads.
“No doubt these devices will greatly assist our students to elevate their end of year test scores and improve their reading and comprehension,” Morton said.
The school’s newly-elected student council members will also be mentored by the club. It’s the first time in nearly six years that the school has had a student council.
“We want to be a ‘protective umbrella’ for undertakings by the new student council — Young Rotarians — and staff and PTA,” Morton said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Test your knowledge…
1. Polio mainly affects ….
A. Children under five
D. All of the above
2. How many countries remain
3. Polio invades which of the
A. Digestive system
B. Nervous System
C. Muscular system
D. Respiratory system
4. How long has Rotary International been working to eradicate polio?
A. 26 years
B. 32 years
C. 12 years
D. 14 years
5. What color were students’ pinkies dyed to show they donated $1 to polio eradication?
6. True of False: There is no cure for polio.
7. True of False: In 2009-10, 18 previously polio-free countries were
re-infected due to imports of the virus?
8. True of False: Polio can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
9. True or False: Polio cases have decreased by more than 99 percent since 1988.
10. True or False: Polio enters the body through the bloodstream.
Test Your Knowledge
1. A, children under five
2. D, four
3. B, nervous system
4. A, 26 years
5. C, purple
7. False. Twenty-three countries have been re-infected
10. False. Polio enters the body through the mouth.
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