Thousands of primary and secondary school pupils are planting purple crocus bulbs this week as part of a project by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) to stamp out polio across the globe.
The Grow Your Own Crocus competition was launched by RIBI to help educate children about polio, a crippling disease that kills and paralyses young children. The purple crocus symbolises the purple dye that is painted on the little fingers of children to show they have been immunised.
Participating schools have received special Grow Your Own Crocus packs, paid for by their local Rotary clubs. The packs include purple crocus bulbs, compost, take home plastic pots, growing instructions, fundraising ideas and educational materials tailored to the national curriculum. Once the crocus bulbs have been planted, pupils will look after them until they bloom in spring next year. The children will also be taking part in a RIBI national artwork competition on the theme, Ridding the World of Polio.
Nan McCreadie, President of RIBI said: "Initiatives like Grow Your Own Crocus are helping raise vital funds which will be used to help eradicate this disease once and for all. The project is a fantastic way for Rotary clubs to engage with school children and their parents about the work Rotarians do both in their local communities and around the world. It will also teach pupils about polio and the devastating impact it still has on children in affected countries.”
Rotary has been at the forefront of the fight to end polio since the 1980s when it helped launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This year, every dollar raised for the End Polio Now campaign will go three times as far thanks to the Make History Today campaign. The campaign was launched jointly by Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and will match funds raised to a total of US$35 million per year until 2018.