Abingdon Dragon Boat Races – Promoting Polio Eradication with all things Purple

Ten members of Oxford Spires were joined by three other Rotarians from across the district at the End Polio Now stand at the Abingdon Dragon Boat races on Sunday 3rd September. Abingdon Vesper Rotary Club hosted the event and kindly invited along a district team to tell members of the public about Rotary’s work to eradicate polio.

The weather was rather miserable, however the purple ducks didn’t mind and the purple rats didn’t mind, so visitors just kept on hooking up the ducks from the pool and splatting the rats as they raced down the drainpipe. Actually the rain did cause the rats to swell a little so they weren’t as fast as usual down the pipe.

Rotary is a lead partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, alongside the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the US Centres for Disease Control and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our team members were able to tell lots of visitors about polio vaccinations, why we use purple pens on children’s little fingers when they have been vaccinated and why it is essential that the disease is completely eradicated. People left our stand with purple little fingers, with badges, lollies, leaflets with facts about polio, and comics about the history of polio.

Some visitors were interested in the globes and took up the challenge to find Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the last three countries with endemic cases of polio. Others played the snakes & ladders style game based on the history of polio. Some went away singing the Mary Poppins song “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..”, some were focussed on their finger print artwork and others were just delighted that they splatted a rat! And our Polio Teddy was named Fluffy Bear and has now moved to her new home in Didcot, with her new friend Lillie.

We raised a little money, we raised lots of awareness of the campaign and we had lots of fun. Thank you to all the volunteers and the visitors who made this another successful day!