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Rick Mercer and Plan International Canada celebrate 11th annual spread the net student challenge

TORONTO, ON (September 27, 2017) – Rick Mercer and Plan International Canada are bringing the fight against malaria to schools across Canada with the launch of the annual Spread the Net Student Challenge, now in its 11th year.

Championed by television personality Rick Mercer since 2007, the Student Challenge gives students across Canada the opportunity to join a friendly competition to raise funds for malaria-preventing bed nets. The top fundraising school in each category – elementary, secondary, and post-secondary – will receive a visit from Mercer and appear on an episode of the Rick Mercer Report. Special considerations are also given for creativity and school spirit. One additional school will receive a visit from Mercer for its outstanding fundraising efforts.

“While travelling in Africa, I saw first-hand the impact that malaria can have on a community,” says Mercer. “Last year, malaria caused more than 400,000 deaths – two-thirds of them were children under the age of five. That’s why I’m calling on Canadian students to participate in this year’s Spread the Net Student Challenge and help make a difference.”

To date, more than 800 schools across Canada have participated in Plan International Canada’s Spread the Net Student Challenge, raising more than $1.6 million for life-saving bed nets, which protect people from malaria transmission from infected mosquitos. Since 2007, Spread the Net has helped protect the lives of almost 42 million people by contributing to the delivery of more than 19 million malaria-preventing bed nets to families in Africa, including countries such as Nigeria, Liberia, and Cameroon. Globally, malaria deaths have decreased by 50% since 2000.

“Spread the Net supports malaria prevention education and the distribution of lifesaving bed nets to the people who need them most, especially children under five and pregnant women who are disproportionately affected. Reaching these vulnerable populations is critical to ending this deadly epidemic,” says Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “Year after year, we are impressed by the passion and commitment that Canadian students bring to the Spread the Net Student Challenge. The global fight against malaria is working, and Canadian students are a part of that success story.”

“Spread the Net enables students across Canada to make a difference by connecting with a global issue that affects millions,” says Julia Myer, Plan International Canada’s Director of Youth Engagement. “We are incredibly proud of our long-standing partnership with Rick and the Rick Mercer Report and grateful for the support from students, parents and educators.”

Plan International Canada’s Spread the Net Student Challenge runs until February 19, 2018. Schools can register at

About Spread the Net

The Spread the Net Student Challenge is a Plan International 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 International Canada in July 2013. Visit for more information.

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan International 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 International strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

Visit and for more information.


Angie Torres-Ramos
Plan International Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext 244