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Mar 28, 2012 | Episcopal Relief & Development

Trinity Students Cast Net to Save Lives

Trinity Episcopal School Netsforlife
Trinity Episcopal School Netsforlife2

Trinity Episcopal School students in Austin raised $5,872.00, enough to help NetsforLife® purchase 489 nets (more than one per Trinity’s 446 students). A concerted effort to provide as many nets as possible for the NetsforLife® program grew out of two academic efforts – one based in the science curriculum, the other in service learning. 


During the fall trimester, middle school science teacher Sarah Horan’s seventh-grade science classes were studying diseases: their origin, transmission, prevention, and impact on society and culture. Their work culminated with a discussion about how the students would dedicate resources to have the greatest impact on disease prevention (based on the model of UN relief efforts). Of the five diseases they studied, they settled on two candidates for their support: tuberculosis and malaria. 


Every year, almost one million people die from malaria, most of them children younger than five years old. Ninety percent of those deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. A simple preventative measure – sleeping under an insecticide-treated net – offers a significant reduction in malaria transmission, suffering, and subsequent deaths from the disease.


NetsforLife® combats malaria by training community agents to deliver life-saving nets, educating community members about proper net use and maintenance, and providing on-going monitoring and evaluation of net use. 


As part of the yearlong Trinity Stewards service-learning program, initial connections were being made with NetsforLife®. Trinity’s Middle School students serve as Stewards of the Environment (in terms of both the natural world and human circumstances). As part of her efforts with the fifth-grade class to study how the mitigation of environmentally based diseases, Chaplain Cathy Boyd had reached out to NetsforLife®


This happy coincidence led the seventh graders to determine that their hypothetical resources would best be dedicated to malaria prevention. They were also inspired to act, working to raise funds forNetsforLife®. Their initial effort grew into a school-wide campaign to have each student raise enough funds to purchase one $12 bed net. 


“The students made the connection between their classroom studies and a real-world need,” the Rev. Boyd said. “They saw how they could apply what they had learned about malaria to make a true difference in people’s lives.” 


Working together, the fifth and seventh grade classes launched their NetsforLife® campaign at Trinity’s November basketball Spirit Night. They hosted the concession stand selling hot dogs, drinks, and baked goods (with the proceeds going to help buy nets), produced an informative public service announcement that ran on screens in the gym throughout the evening, and staged halftime free throw contests to raise funds. 


With the help of the Rev. Boyd, they rolled out the campaign to the entire school, visiting the Lower and Middle School chapels to challenge their classmates to each raise enough funds to purchase one net for the program. They emphasized that students should find ways to earn the money themselves, to reinforce the idea that individuals efforts can make a difference in the lives of others. 


Trinity’s students took to the challenge with vigor. From the younger children helping their parents and siblings around the house to more entrepreneurial efforts such as lemonade stands, selling self-drawn comic strips and duct-tape baskets, and babysitting, each student worked to earn what they could, on their own. 


The NetsforLife® the Inspiration Fund is a grassroots effort to educate, engage, and unite Episcopalians to support the MDGs through the fight against malaria. Our goal is to build awareness about this disease, how it can be prevented, and raise $5 million by December 2012.