Polio Points

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Children in South Sudan, protected from a life blighted by polio, as a result of Bromsgrove's Polio Points

Children in South Sudan, protected from a life blighted by polio, as a result of Bromsgrove’s Polio Points

Saving Lives Every Day at Bromsgrove International School Thailand

The International Community School Amman prides itself on its international ethos, which permeates a school full of young global citizens. Just as the late, great, Nobel Peace Prize-winning, Wangari Maathai tried to inspire a generation of ‘hummingbirds’, extinguishing a metaphorical forest fire drop by drop, and Mahatma Gandhi famously called on us all to “be the change”, so ICS students make a difference every single day.

The ICS Core Values

Inspired by the International Baccalaureate’s Learner Profile, the school developed its own blueprint for effective global citizenship, a recipe of values it seeks to instill in every student. The school aims for them to show integrity, compassion, equity and respect, be determined, embrace challenge, and spread happiness in all they do. And every time a student shows strength in any of these values, they are rewarded with a ‘Polio Point’. Through a ground-breaking partnership with vivomiles, one of the world’s premier school rewards platforms, students are given their ‘Polio Points’ via an intuitive and realtime app, so that everyone can track their own progress.

What are Polio Points?

For every four Polio Points a student receives, the school contributes US$1 towards the global eradication of Polio, the next frontier in the UN’s Millennium Development Goal to combat world diseases. As a global community, we are 99% of the way towards eradicating forever this crippling disease which preys mercilessly on the very poorest and youngest people on the planet. Through a unique partnership with UNICEF and the Global Poverty Project, each Polio Point earned by ICS students actually helps to save and transform the lives of children around the world.

Making the Point

“You do something amazing in school, you save a life. This sort of life-changing equation is irresistible to young people,” explains Matthew Savage, Acting Principal at ICS, who first launched this programme whilst Secondary Principal at the International School Brunei in 2012. Having watched it save over 10,000 lives in its first year in Brunei, he could not resist bringing the programme to other schools too. “There has been a paradigm shift at the school since we introduced Polio Points”, he explains, “and we have children telling their parents not what test score they got but how many children’s lives they have saved”. The slogan of this trailblazing programme is ‘Make the Point’, and, like the quickly trending hashtag, ICS students are seizing the opportunity to #makethepoint.

Changemakers and Global Citizens

The difference at ICS is palpable. Before Polio Points, it was difficult, sometimes, to motivate every learner, and to incentivise their achievement in a meaningful and relevant way. In pursuit of the best thinking of Carol Dweck, Polio Points feeds a growth mindset and rewards process rather than product, and Bromsgrove students are actively growing their global citizenship credentials in the process. It has also empowered them to realise that young people really can make a difference to the world, and that theirs could even be the generation which gets rid of Polio forever, just as their grandparents’ once rid the world of Smallpox.

It’s all connected

The dividends of Polio Points are massive and many. In addition to the growth of a new group of global citizens, this programme nurtures altruism and empathy, rooted as it is in providing benefit to other people. Students have now demonstrated time and again that the incentive this offers is far more profound than a self-serving or monetary reward. Because each Polio Point is accessible to every child – a challenge, but an inclusive and achievable one – student morale and determination have increased tenfold; and, best of all as far as the parents are concerned, because each point stems from an attribute which enables outstanding learning, earning Polio Points also makes your grades better. It really is all connected.

Man on the Ground

ICS is proud to work closely with the Global Poverty Project, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign. Even more than that, the school is lucky to have partnered with global altruist and anti-poverty advocate, d’Arcy Lunn, who recently spent several months in South Sudan, assisting with the immunisation programmes there, ensuring Polio Points funds go directly to those who need it, and, most importantly, connecting students and staff at the school with the very people who can make the difference on the ground. With d’Arcy’s help, ICS students see the fruits of their efforts and hear their impact in real stories, picture and letters from the very communities they are determined to help.

Spreading the Word

If one school can make a difference, then many schools can do so even more. Already, schools across the world are seeing the potential of this unique programme and exploring how their students, too, can #makethepoint. Like all the most powerful and successful movements in history, this started with a small and simple idea, which, in the hands of individual young people, can now grow into a world-changing force. And, at ICS, students, staff and parents alike are proud to have been there at the start; proud, yet again, as is commonplace in this pioneering and dynamic international school, to tread new ground in international education; proud to #makethepoint.

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