Weekly Feature

2017-03-15 / Front Page

Purple Pinkie Project raises funds to eradicate polio

Through the efforts of a Kenmore West High School senior, many other students and school district staff, in partnership with the Kenmore Rotary, $2,100 was raised to support Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio through the Purple Pinkie Project.

With matching programs through the Kenmore Rotary and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this will result in a total of $12,600 for the effort to eradicate polio, according to a prepared statement.

Paige Phillips, a senior at Kenmore West, enrolled in the school’s rigorous International Baccalaureate Program and decided to satisfy an IB requirement by working to make the Purple Pinkie Project even more successful.

With Phillips’ coordination, students in the Kenmore West and East Challenge/Interact clubs visited a total of six schools: Hoover Elementary and Middle, Franklin Elementary and Middle, Edison Elementary, Lindbergh Elementary and Kenmore West.

“She communicated with all of the schools ahead of time to coordinate the logistics and promotional efforts, and also helped us expand the program to the middle schools this year,” said Lawrence Coon, past president of the Kenmore Rotary who helps coordinate the effort each year. “In total, we were in seven schools, and staffed the painting efforts with both Kenmore West and Kenmore East students in the Challenge/Interact Clubs as well as a few Kenmore Rotary Club members.”

Phillips decided to help coordinate the Purple Pinkie Project for her CAS project, which is a requirement to earn an IB diploma.

She expressed gratitude toward all those students and staff who donated toward the effort in order to have their pinkie fingers painted purple as a sign of solidarity behind the effort to eradicate polio.

“As a graduating senior who has been taking part in the Purple Pinkie Project since freshman year, this project really meant a lot to me and I really can’t believe the turnout we had this year,” she said.

Coon also credited Kenmore East senior Taylor Nash for assisting in making the effort such a success by rallying support from students from Kenmore East, according to the statement.

A purple pinkie is an international symbol for those administrating polio vaccines to keep children from being immunized too frequently. As soon as a child younger than 5 years of age receives the drops of the oral vaccine, his or her pinky is coated with indelible purple dye, according to the statement.

In this way, health care workers giving the vaccine can recognize the recent administration of the polio preventive drug.

The money raised in Ken-Ton schools through the Purple Pinkie Project will fund vaccinations for thousands of children.

“We are down to just two countries that are reporting new cases of polio, which is how the eradication effort is measured,” Coon said.

“Those countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the number of new cases in the past year was down to 34. We are close.”

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