Easter has just passed and Spring is well and truly underway. Buds on trees are beginning to open, flowers are preparing to bring Britain into bloom and now the UK’s schools are being encouraged to join in by planting their own collection of wild flowers in support of The British Polio Fellowship. The emergence of bright, colourful flowers after the dark winter months has long been seen as a symbol of hope and for that reason the British Polio Fellowship has adopted them as the theme for an awareness campaign in its 75th year: ‘Sowing the Seeds of Hope’.
On Tuesday 22April, the children of Christchurch C of E Primary School in Surrey were joined by QVC star Julia Roberts and together they launched the campaign. The children planted wild flower seeds, donated by Westland Horticulture and Syngenta, who have specially selected a collection of wild flowers to represent the ongoing plight of some 120,000 people across the country affected by the late effects of Polio, and a newly-recognised medical condition – Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).
“Many of these people have been left with serious disabilities and mobility issues that they have to deal with on a daily basis,” explained Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “And now to make matters worse, many of them are having to face a whole new battle against PPS.” It is believed that 80% of people who have had Polio will be affected by PPS at some point in their life. After an interval of several years of stability, individuals can develop increasing weakness, fatigue and pain in previously affected or unaffected muscles, a general reduction in stamina, breathing, sleeping and/or swallowing problems and cold intolerance. “The British Polio Fellowship is on hand to help people suffering with the condition today and our hope for the future is that we will be able to support the thousands more who are likely to develop PPS in later life,” said Ted.
“Our goal is achievable but to reach it we will need the help of younger generations and that is why we are now ‘Sowing the Seeds of Hope.’” QVC star Julia Roberts, who caught Polio aged just 14 months old, welcomed the campaign: “When I left hospital I was told that I would have to wear a calliper for the rest of my life.
“I refused to accept that and I battled long and hard to overcome the effects of Polio. There are thousands of people who are facing similar battles in the UK right now and PPS is looming around the corner, just waiting to make life worse.
“I was shocked when I heard that 80% of Polio victims are likely to develop PPS, I was even more shocked at the lack of awareness about the issue. The British Polio Fellowship are doing a fantastic job of supporting people with the late effects of Polio and PPS, and helping to make more people aware of a problem that affects a similar number of people in the UK as Parkinson’s.
“The Sowing the Seeds of Hope campaign is a great way of getting younger generations involved and making them aware of the late effects of Polio and PPS. They are very lucky; new cases of Polio in the UK are a thing of the past but there are still generations of people alive today who need help, and we need the support of younger people to ensure that they get it.”
Assistant Head of Christchurch C of E Infant School in Surrey, Hayley Seuke, said; “We really liked the idea of planting seeds that would be both an enjoyable and educational activity for the children at a number of levels. Whilst the children are very young, we know from experience that they do remember these sorts of events when they get older, and look back on them fondly. It will help the charity The British Polio Fellowship raise awareness with parents, teachers and the local community, all of which makes it an incredibly positive activity all round.”
The British Polio Fellowship is calling on all schools across the country; Primary, Secondary, Academies and State alike to get involved and support the ‘Sowing the Seeds of Hope Campaign’. If you would like more information about how your school could get involved with the campaign and support the British Polio Fellowship then please visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.