Sharing the tale of polio in Canterbury

Steve Root organized a Rotary display in Canterbury.

Steve Root organized a Rotary display in Canterbury.

By Steve Root, Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise, England

Three years ago I was invited to a Rotary meeting by a customer. I’d heard of Rotary but really had no idea what the organization did.

I quickly realized that everyone there wanted to do good things in the community and that together, we could achieve a lot more than we could as individuals. I’d be able to join in and help with projects others were working on — for example, helping at a charity fundraising day — as a new member.

It was through Rotary that I learned about polio. As a 32-year-old, my only knowledge of polio was that I’d received a vaccination when I was young. I didn’t even realize the disease still existed. I was given a copy of Rotary’s Amazing Stories of Polio, a comic that explains the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s and describes how Rotary is working to eradicate the disease forever.

I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to share this story with other people?”

I decided to get the comic enlarged to fill the windows of an empty shop on the high street here in Canterbury. Through RI, I was able to contact the American artist who had produced the original and who granted permission to use his artwork free of charge. Soon members of my club introduced me to other landlords with empty shops, which led to several more offers of free use while those shops were empty. A graphic designer and printer also donated their time and expertise free of charge.

The result was an “Amazing Stories of Polio” display that remained in place for three months. Although primarily aimed at sharing the story of polio, it brightened the high street, raised funds to continue the effort to eradicate polio, and led to many other opportunities including a music event in association with local university students. 

And although I was the one who had the idea, it only happened because of Rotary.

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