A “friendly rivalry” at a Surrey elementary school has resulted in more than 3,000 vaccines being donated to UNICEF Canada for children around the world
Kids Boost Immunity (KBI) is a Canadian health platform designed to raise literacy about immunization in schools. The program, according to kidsboostimmunity.com, is “designed to align with provincial curriculums in science and social studies around various tops related to immunization and global health.”
KBI was launched in April of 2018. Kids Boost Immunity was piloted in B.C. with funding from the B.C. Ministry of Health before receiving additional funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to expand in schools across the country for the 2018/2019 school year.
The program’s website includes lesson plans that are each paired with an online quiz.
Ian Roe, national manager of Kids Boost Immunity, said children can earn one vaccine per quiz, but there’s a catch.
“You have to get 80 per cent. There’s an incentive there for the kid — if they don’t get 80 per cent — to go back and do it again, but they have to do all the questions again,” he said. “A lot of kids do that because they want to get the vaccine.”
Students at Senator Reid Elementary in north Surrey have been working on the lesson plans and quizzes through Kids Boost Immunity since the beginning of the school year.
To date, 127 students in Grades 5 to 7 have answered more than 50,000 questions and earned 3,144 vaccines for children.
Grade 6/7 teacher Chris Patey said his class began using the program and then challenged four other classes, including Tanis Filiatrault’s Grade 6/7 class.
“We all like friendly rivalries. We all play dodgeball together. We all play capture the flag together. We’re very inclusive,” Patey said.
Then he challenged a Grade 5 class.
“They ended up taking first place away from all of us. They came in out of nowhere,” he said.
Patey said the program is planned specifically around Grade 6 immunizations.
“We usually have to deal with this every year, and they’re always so afraid. We’re trying to take the stigma away from getting a nasty needle or big shots by bringing in some of the challenges that kids from other countries and adults from other countries have to face,” Patey said.
“Once they appreciated it more, they understood a little bit more that we are very privileged here to have access.”
Filiatrault said that once the students learned vaccines would be donated, they were “super excited.”
“That’s one of the things that we definitely love about it. It helps to connect them to the rest of the world, helping children in other countries that don’t have the same health benefits and opportunities that we do,” she said.
Being a “predominately South Asian neighbourhood,” Patey said, the teachers are “really aware of the fact that a lot of these kids and their families have come from situations in India, Pakistan and a lot of the Middle Eastern countries that don’t have the same kind of access to health care.”
“It really brings it home to them saying, ‘My cousins don’t have this. My cousins can’t get this because they live out in the village and doctors come to them once every month and then there’s a lineup 1,000 people deep,’” he said.
Filiatrault said that through KBI, students and teachers learned “1.5 million children die every year due to preventable disease.” She said that because the program’s resources provide evidence-based knowledge, “you know you can trust the information.”
KBI’s website says that “although immunization is widely heralded as a miracle of modern medicine, the spread of misinformation online has resulted in some parents choosing to skip certain vaccines or avoid immunizations altogether.” As a result, the program was developed “as part of a larger effort to find new ways to counter misinformation on the internet.”
Roe said the program was “sort of riffed off of the craze for quizzes.”
“With so many of them online now of every strip imaginable (such as) ‘Which Game of Thrones Character Are You? Take the quiz.’ This is sort of learning for good, in a sense.”
A map on KBI’s website shows eight schools in the Surrey school district are currently taking part in the program.