This past week marked the first ever Polio Awareness Week, put together by Centennial’s own Interact club. Working in union with Santiago, Corona, and JFK, this week consisted of various events at each school to both raise awareness about Polio and raise money for its eradication.
Poliovirus is a crippling and potentially fatal disease that still affects major parts of the world, like Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s caused by a virus as indicated in the name, and once infected, there is no very effective cure. In fact, the best cure for polio is preventing it through vaccinations– and that is where Centennial students can help.
Interact had been selling t-shirts to raise awareness for polio all of the past week. For $10, each purchase of a shirt provided 16 people with with vaccinations. Centennial managed to sell a little over 200 shirts, meaning at least 3,200 vaccinations funded by our school alone. On top of that, an agreement between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International, which supports Interact, doubled each dollar raised — meaning that each shirt will actually end up saving 32 children from poliovirus.
The week was filled with various events, starting off on Tuesday with the passing out of purple bracelets to show support for the cause. Wednesday, Interact officers carried around ink pads and inked pinkies, to imitate the purple ink dipped pinkies that those who receive vaccinations get in order to show that they’ve become polio-free.
October 24th, Polio Awareness Day, started off with the color purple all across the school as many dressed up in the color to show their support for the cause, and the event of the day was just as successful. Ms. Lopez- Jones, a polio survivor herself, came to talk about polio and her journey as tons of students came by to listen during their lunches. She talked about her life in Mexico, and moving to the U.S and the struggles she had to endure with just growing up and with growing up as a polio patient. She brought in a brace that she wore at a young age that her father, a shoemaker, made for her to help her walk just a bit more than before, and shared great stories of her childhood which, although may have been different strayed from the usual, was every bit as amusing and entertaining.
Though in her story, Ms. Lopez-Jones mentioned how there was a chance for her to be vaccinated from polio and how great it was to raise money for a cause like eradicating polio, she still closed her speech by saying “I wouldn’t change what happened to me, because it made me who I am today.”
Now, polio stands as 99% eradicated worldwide, and we are all so close to getting rid of it forever. Any little contribution can make a huge difference in the lives of people in endemic areas, so buy a shirt, get informed, and help end polio now.