Anyone who tunes into tonight’s Rick Mercer Report had better mind their ears.
All 500 students from Kew Beach Junior Public School will be singing, dancing and cheering on the show, which airs at 8 p.m. tonight on CBC television.
It’s Mercer’s way to thank the school for raising $8,000 to buy anti-malaria bed nets for kids in Niger, Liberia, and Zimbabwe – the largest donation made by any elementary school this year to the comedian’s Spread the Net Student Challenge.
“You guys raised enough money to save 800 people,” said Mercer when he took the stage last week in a Kew Beach gym packed with students, teachers and parent volunteers.
“That’s more kids than are in your school.”
Organized by the charity Plan Canada, Spread the Net raises money for thousands of $10 bed nets that protect kids from malaria-carrying mosquitoes as they sleep.
As older Kew students learned during their fundraising campaign, about 90 per cent of all malaria-related deaths happen in African countries, where the disease kills more children than any other.
But students also learned that, according to the UN, public health campaigns such as bed nets have lowered the malaria-related death rate by about two-fifths in the decade since 2000, saving the lives of about three million children.
Adam Hughes is a father of two with a son in Kew’s Grade 5 class – the class that decorated the school’s ‘Spread the Net’ banner with a swarm of giant paper mosquitoes.
“He’s got a good grasp of it,” said Hughes. “It’s such a simple concept – you buy a net, and that’s it.”
Principal Sarah Nauman said every year, the school’s Grade 6 class or student council chooses a charity to support, and they usually pick one that helps other children.
This year, their fundraising was off the charts.
For the first two weeks in February, Grade 6 volunteers sold “candy-grams” to other students in the kindergarten to Grade 6 school. Full of candy and tied with a ribbon, students could have the $2 bags delivered to schoolmates on Valentine’s Day.
Students normally sell about 500, said Nauman, but this year they sold twice as many, raising $1,800.
Students also held a dance-a-thon in the gym, and, for a small donation on the school’s Spirit Day, they could dress up as whatever they want to be when they grow up.
Nauman said there was a UN representative, a journalist, and a photographer walking the halls that day.
“I’m sure we had doctors, and I’m sure we had one or two princesses as well,” she added.
Watching Rick Mercer ham it up as he cast the whole school in a music video that will air on tonight’s show, parent Jenna Westphal said the long-time comic and Spread the Net supporter did a great job.
“He’s like a big kid himself, so he can totally relate to these kids,” she said.