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Elementary school students help eradicate polio

Pinkie painting

China Grove Elementary student Abbrielle Shue shows off her purple pinky. Submitted photo

CHINA GROVE — Students at China Grove Elementary School did their part to help eradicate polio throughout the world.

Responding to an ongoing project sponsored by Rotary International and the Rotary Club of China Grove, students lined up to have their pinkie fingers painted purple.

When teams of adults sponsored by Rotary visit villages across the globe to administer the polio vaccine, they paint the child’s little finger with a purple dye called Gentian Violet. The identification assures that the team avoids mistakenly administering the vaccine to the same child twice that day.

In some cases, children are given a cookie for their effort and to calm them. Rotarians did the same for China Grove Elementary students.

“The purple pinkie also assured the child does not come back for more vaccine just to get another cookie that day,” club polio Chairman Frank Jones jokingly said.

Rotary International has been striving since 1995 to inoculate every child to finally rid the world of the dreaded disease poliomyelitis. Along the way, it has been joined by other organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Progress has been impeded by warring factions in some countries and the spread of false information, causing people to fear that the vaccine would harm their children.

Final success is at hand. Only a few cases were reported last year in a handful of countries. Only two countries — Pakistan and Nigeria — remain on the list to be certified as polio-free.

The China Grove Elementary program came just a few days after World Polio Day and Dr. Jonas Salk’s Oct. 23 birthday.

Students spent the week leading up to the event learning about polio and Salk and others who helped fight the disease. Students contributed one dollar each and raised more than $400 for the cause.

“We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and many of us feel we are entering the final year of this effort,” China Grove Rotary Club President Jim Morton said.

He also complimented the students and school staff, led by Principal LeaAnne Thomas, for a well- organized program on the school’s part.

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