Rick Mercer and Plan Canada launch ninth annual Spread the Net Student Challenge to prevent malaria

TORONTO, October 2, 2015 - Rick Mercer and Plan Canada are once again bringing the fight against malaria to schools across Canada with the launch of the ninth annual Spread the Net Student Challenge.

Championed by television personality Rick Mercer since 2007, the Student Challenge invites Canadian elementary, secondary and post-secondary school students to join a friendly competition to raise funds for malaria-preventing bed nets. The top fundraising school in each category in the competition will receive a visit from Mercer and appear on an episode of the Rick Mercer Report. This year, Plan Canada and Mercer are awarding a visit and recognition on the show to one additional participating school in celebration of its outstanding efforts and school spirit.

“Every year, over 584,000 people around the world die from malaria, a preventable disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito,” says Mercer. “We know a lot more can be done to save lives, and effective solutions like insecticide-treated bed nets help protect children and families. I’m calling on Canadian students to take up the fight against malaria and get involved by raising awareness and funds for bed nets.”

To date, 700 schools across Canada have participated in Plan’s Spread the Net Student Challenge, raising more than $1.41 million for life-saving bed nets. Spread the Net has protected the lives of more than 9.6 million people by delivering over 5.4 million malaria-preventing bed nets to families in the most severely-affected regions in Africa.

Students from Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON, celebrate with Rick Mercer in March 2015. The school was one of the winners of Plan Canada's 2014-2015 Spread the Net Student Challenge.
Students from Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON, celebrate with Rick Mercer in March 2015. The school was one of the winners of Plan Canada's 2014-2015 Spread the Net Student Challenge.

“We’ve seen the power of young Canadians – passionate about global issues and brimming with school spirit – to have a real and lasting impact in the fight against malaria,” says Marie Staunton, Plan Canada’s interim President and CEO. “Plan’s Spread the Net Student Challenge enables students to tackle global problems through local action, and to have fun in the process. We are proud of Plan’s long-standing partnership with Rick and the Rick Mercer Report and of all the students across Canada who are changing the world by helping save lives.”

Plan Canada’s Spread the Net Student Challenge runs from September 30, 2015 to February 22, 2016. Schools can register at any time before February 15, 2016 at spreadthenet.ca.

About Plan and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan’s global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty. Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

About Spread the Net

Spread the Net is a Plan Canada initiative designed to educate and inspire Canadians to help end preventable malaria deaths by raising funds and awareness to support the purchase and distribution of bed nets, along with training on their use, to children and their families in Africa. Spread the Net was founded in 2006 by Belinda Stronach, P.C., and Rick Mercer, becoming an initiative of Plan Canada in July 2013. Visit spreadthenet.ca for more information.

Media contacts

Dena Allen, Plan Canada
T: (416) 920-1654 ext. 326 | C: (416) 723-6340 | dallen@plancanada.ca

Angie Torres-Ramos, Plan Canada
T: (416) 920-1654 ext. 244 | atorres@plancanada.ca

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