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Students Rise to the Challenge in the Fight Against Malaria

2009-09-06

Rick Mercer and UNICEF launch 3rd Annual Spread the Net Student Challenge
at Simon Fraser University

BURNABY, September 10, 2009 – Rick Mercer is at Simon Fraser University today to launch the third annual Spread the Net Student Challenge in partnership with UNICEF Canada. The challenge is a call to action for high school, college and university students from across Canada to fundraise for anti-malarial bed nets that will be provided to children and families in Liberia and Rwanda.

“It’s inexcusable that malaria claims the lives of nearly one million people each year, mostly children, when there is a simple, effective way to protect them from this illness,” said Rick Mercer, co-founder of Spread the Net and challenge champion. “That’s why we’re calling upon students from across Canada to join us in our war on mosquitoes by taking up the Spread the Net Student Challenge!”

From September 10, 2009 to February 26, 2010, students are encouraged to sign up at www.spreadthenet.org and creatively fundraise by mobilizing their friends, families and communities. For every $10 raised, a family in Liberia or Rwanda is provided with one long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net and the educational training that can help reduce the transmission of malaria by 50 per cent.

Over the past two years, thousands of students from hundreds of schools have raised over $650,000 or enough for 65,000 bed nets. An amazing accomplishment but there is more work to be done.This year, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia will represent the West Coast and spearhead the new “West vs. East Challenge.” The top fundraising school from the West and the one from the East will each receive a personal visit from Rick Mercer and will appear on an episode of The Rick Mercer Report in March 2010!

"Last year SFU raised more than $13,000 for the Spread the Net campaign,” said Dr. Michael Stevenson, President and Vice-Chancellor, Simon Fraser University. “I encourage everyone on campus to support this very worthwhile cause again this year."

Spread the Net’s partner UNICEF is a global leader in malaria prevention among children and

the organization is the largest purchaser of mosquito bed nets in the world. The ultimate goal of

Spread the Net is to raise enough funds to enable UNICEF to purchase and distribute 500,000 insecticide-treated bed nets families in Liberia and Rwanda and educate families on how to use them properly. To-date, thanks to the generosity of Canadians, 393,800 bed nets have been delivered.

"The Spread the Net Student Challenge gives youth the opportunity to save lives,” said Martha Spears, Regional Director for British Columbia, UNICEF Canada. “With every $10 donation, they purchase an actual bed net to help in the fight against malaria.”

For more information on Spread the Net or the challenge or to donate please visit www.spreadthenet.org. 

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About Spread the Net
Spread the Net is a hip, viral, largely web-based campaign designed to educate, motivate and inspire Canadians to help eradicate malaria by fundraising to support the purchase and distribution of 500,000 anti-malaria bed nets to recipients in Liberia and Rwanda. Spread the Net was founded in November 2006, by The Honourable Belinda Stronach, P.C. and comedian Rick Mercer and is powered by an innovative partnership with UNICEF Canada.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

Renseignements:

Karine Morin, Spécialiste des communications, (514) 288-5134 poste 8425, kmorin@unicef.ca