It’s not every day Campbell River kids get to immunize children in third world countries, but that’s essentially what was happening last week at L’École Phoenix Middle School.
Dana Ruehlen’s Grade 8 science class was part of a pilot project where, simply by learning about the value of immunization and answering some questions to prove it, they immunized over 10,000 children in places like Somalia, where they don’t have government funded programs to do it.
“Basically, the kids go online and watch videos or read articles and then answer questions about them, and for each one they get right, they earn one vaccine,” Ruehlen says.
The vaccines are for polio, tetanus and measles and they are being purchased from UNICEF by I Boost Immunity, a Canadian online grassroots immunization advocacy program managed by the Public Health Association of BCworking to raise awareness about the benefits of immunization and help global immunization efforts.
“I said, let’s make it a reasonable challenge and shoot for 1,000 vaccines,” Ruehlen says. “I thought that would be something we could do. Well, they had over 1,000 in the first day.”
So they upped their target to 4,000.
Then they blew past that one, too.
Phoenix was one of only 15 schools in the province to take part in the pilot project and their participation came about kind of by accident, Ruehlen says.
“When I was planning my unit this year, I was talking to Public Health, trying to get a field trip or a guest speaker or something fun and interactive for the kids, and they mentioned this challenge to me. I thought it looked interesting.”
The kids seem to think it is, too.
“They are so excited about it,” Ruehlen says. “They have just jumped in head first. I even see them in the halls on their lunch break doing the challenge on their phones,” she says with a smile.
And they’re not doing it because they get some big prize at the end if they win.
“They haven’t even really been curious about the prizes. Sure, there are a few small prizes being offered, but they’re doing it purely for the idea of helping others. It’s just amazing.”
One of the “prizes,” the kids don’t even know about yet, in fact.
“I’ve made contact with Barb Bellefleur up at Booster Juice and I’ll be taking the kids up there for smoothies when we’re done,” Ruehlen says. “I mean, the program is called BoosterU and it’s through the I Boost Community, so it just made sense.”
The Phoenix students were just participating in this program for the week – which not coincidentally was also National Immunization Week – but anyone can do this anytime by heading online to iboostimmunity.com, registering an email address, learning about vaccines and immunization and taking quizzes.