When 12-year-old Clark Eliott decided to rally his school and raise funds for the 2016 Spread the Net Student Challenge, he had no idea his efforts would blossom into a community-driven initiative with the power to change lives.
Clark and his classmates at Macville Public School in Caledon, ON, came together to spread awareness in their community about the deadly realities of malaria – a preventable disease that kills nearly 438,000 people every year, with 90% of these deaths occurring in Africa and mostly among children under five years old.
Initially, Clark and his friends intended to raise $2,500 for the cause, but they quickly learned that this campaign was destined to skyrocket.
“As soon as the community heard about our Spread the Net efforts – BOOM! Money started flying in,” says Clark. “A developer donated $3,500, a hot chocolate sale made $300, and kindergarten students raised $350 from selling jewellery. It was just crazy!”
In just 3 months, Macville Public School, which only has 240 students, raised nearly $12,000 to take home first place in the elementary school category.
In March, students from Macville were visited by Rick Mercer, co-founder of Spread the Net, and appeared on the season finale of the Rick Mercer Report.
Mercer, who visits all winning schools, congratulated and thanked the students for their astonishing collective efforts, saying “A lot of kids are going to be safe and healthy because of you right here at Macville.”
For Clark, the past few months have been a whirlwind of activity and excitement. Not only did he meet one of his favourite TV personalities, but this experience has also given him the courage to be a leader and inspire others to take action.
“This campaign really changed me because I now know that one person can truly make a difference in other people’s lives” he says.
2016’s outstanding winners
This year, more than 50 schools across Canada collectively raised over $79,000 to help provide life-saving bed nets to protect children and families in Africa from malaria-infected mosquitoes.
Here are the 2016 Student Challenge winners:
- Macville Public School, Caledon, ON raised $11,455 (Top elementary school)
- Balmoral Hall School, Winnipeg, MB, raised $12,000 (Top secondary school)
- Algonquin College, Ottawa, ON raised $3,390 (Top post-secondary school)
- Central Algoma Secondary School, Desbarats, ON raised $4,606 (Wild card school)
Incredibly, Algonquin College students have raised over $66,000 for Spread the Net since 2012, and this is the fourth time they have won in the post-secondary school category.
Conquering malaria one bed net at a time
Since 2007, Spread the Net has protected the lives of more than 9.6 million people by delivering over 5.4 million malaria-preventing bed nets to families in Africa.
To date, over 750 schools across Canada have participated in the Challenge, raising more than $1.41 million for life-saving bed nets.
You can join the movement to end malaria too.