As described by the World Health Organization, World Polio Day was established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of a remarkable individual – Dr. Jonas Salk – who led a team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Aside from this life-changing milestone, here are 3 other key reasons to celebrate World Polio Day, from the perspective of a vibrant Rotaractor!
3. It connects us with our Rotary family worldwide.
The Rotary family is more than 1.2 million members strong. Coming together for a collective vision – to eradicate polio around the world – creates a powerful bond. #WorldPolioDay creates an opportunity for us to come together in-person locally, and on social media globally, to engage in discussions about what we’ve accomplished together, what we are working to achieve, and the lessons learned along the way. It is through learning and engaging with one another that the Rotary network can continue to create a better tomorrow. The Rotary International World Polio Day Livestream is a great opportunity to reflect on all of this, while hearing from global health experts and Rotary’s celebrity polio ambassadors, and I hope you will tune in!
2. It’s an opportunity to learn from each other.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) inspires Rotarians, Rotaractors, and many others in the Rotary family to take action in the fight against polio. A number of clubs around the world organize initiatives in honour of World Polio Day, as well as throughout the year, to raise awareness about the importance of global polio eradication, raise funds to ensure children are vaccinated to prevent transmission of polio, or celebrate how far we have come through this collaborative effort!
If there is anything I’ve learned in my 7 years in Rotaract, it’s that the possibilities for creativity and making a difference are limitless! Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland are selling Rotary Crocuses, with the sales of these flowers serving as a leading fundraiser for the End Polio Now campaign. As described at the RI Convention in 2018, some clubs produce and sell champagne bottles or End Polio Now sneakers to raise funds and awareness! Many other clubs, including my current club, the Rotaract Club of Toronto, dye pinkies purple in symbolism of children’s pinkies being marked purple when they are vaccinated, to prevent double vaccination from occurring. Get creative in thinking about how your club can put a unique ‘stamp’ on the GPEI!
Queen’s University Rotaract Club, D7040, 2012 Rotaract Club of Toronto, D7070, 2018
1. The world is more than 99.9% POLIO-FREE.
Through building strong partnerships, understanding different geographical and political landscapes, tailoring approaches to reach children in their communities, and having a burning desire to eliminate the second virus in history, the world has become more than 99.9% polio-free. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal and cross the finish line to ensure no child nor their loved ones have to live in fear of the poliovirus or its impact. We truly are “this close” to eradicating polio, and there is no time like the present to make history.