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


TORONTO, ON, Oct. 5, 2016 – 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 tenth 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. For the second year in a row, one additional school will receive a visit from Mercer for its outstanding fundraising efforts.

“When I travelled in Africa, I saw first-hand the impact that malaria can have on a community,” says Mercer. “Last year, malaria caused over 438,000 deaths, over two-thirds of them in 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 to make our tenth year the best yet.”

To date, over 750 schools across Canada have participated in Plan International Canada’s Spread the Net Student Challenge, raising more than $1.41 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 32 million people by contributing to the delivery of over 15.3 million malaria-preventing bed nets to families in Africa. Globally, malaria deaths have decreased by 50% over the past ten years.

“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. Year after year, we are impressed by the amazing creativity and passion 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,” says Caroline Riseboro, Plan International Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

“Spread the Net enables Canadian students to make a difference by connecting with a global issue that affects millions,” says Julia Myer, Plan International Canada’s Director of Public Engagement. “We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Rick and the Rick Mercer Report and of all the students across Canada who are helping to save lives.”

Plan International Canada’s Spread the Net Student Challenge runs until February 22, 2016. Schools can register at any time before February 15, 2016 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.

Media contacts

Irene Whittaker-Cumming
Senior Manager, Communications, Plan International Canada
T: 416 920-1654 ext. 549 | C: 647 284-9575 |

Kaili Colford
Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan International Canada
T: 416 920-1654 ext. 350 | C: 647-459-7557 |