By Jessica Brodie
Youth are now picking up the pace in South Carolina’s fight against malaria, with a T-shirt contest and More Than Nets fashion show adding a bit of creative flair to fundraising.
The Rev. Jeri Katherine Warden Sipes, field coordinator for the South Carolina Conference’s Imagine No Malaria initiative, said the steering committee is hoping youth will give their all to the contests, not only raising youth’s own awareness about the disease but also inspiring adults across the state to step up their personal commitment.
“This is a learning opportunity because they’ll need to learn about Imagine No Malaria to create their design, and a teaching opportunity for every else,” Sipes said about the youth contests. “It’s a fun, interactive highly participatory, creative activity that I think youth will respond to.”
The conference has committed to raising $1 million for the global United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative, which has a goal of $75 million ($66 million has already been raised). Children, such as young Olive Kronz from Hartsville, have been involved in fundraising since the conference launched the initiative in June, and last month, Bishop Jonathan Holston, his wife, Felecia, and other conference leaders—including the entire Cabinet—pledged personal financial contributions.
For the T-shirt contest, United Methodists teens will put their artistic talents to use by designing a T-shirt that will be worn by everyone working together to help the Imagine No Malaria initiative. The winner will get a VIP backstage pass to hang out with the band and keynote speaker at the Revolution youth spiritual retreat in late January. There are no restrictions on the design—“the sky’s the limit,” organizers have said. Teens in grades six to 12 must submit their design in .jpg format by Jan. 8 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the More Than Nets Fashion Design contest, teens (grades six to 12) must design a wearable garment using nets (tulle) as the mail material, though other materials should be incorporated into the design so it is not see-through. They will also model the design at Revolution. To enter, download the entry form at inm.umcsc.org and send that to Sipes (email@example.com) with photos of the design, a description of the creation and a personal reflection about how Imagine No Malaria inspired the design.
About Imagine No Malaria
Every 60 seconds, a child in Africa dies from malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that is curable and preventable with the right resources. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go to Imagine No Malaria initiatives focusing on prevention (bed nets for families), treatment (improving and equipping hospitals, medication and setting up clinics in rural areas), education (training health workers) and communication (reaching out to the community with information about how to prevent malaria, identify symptoms and get treatment). They are focusing on sub-Saharan Africa because that is where 90 percent of the deaths occur.
Currently, 594,000 people die from malaria every year, but with adequate funds, Sipes said, the disease is treatable, beatable and preventable. In just six years, the UMC has been able to reduce the number of deaths by malaria from one every 30 seconds to one every 60 seconds.
For more information about the initiative in South Carolina: inm.umcsc.org.