North Carolina Youth Spike Malaria

The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina recently concluded its yearlong campaign for Episcopal Relief & Development’s NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund. Members of all ages from across the diocese joined together to raise funds for more than 34,138 mosquito nets, to enable communities in Africa to fight malaria. The youth were particularly spirited contributors, helping to energize parishioners and draw attention to the issue. One example of their support was “Let’s Spike Malaria!” – a volleyball tournament that united young people in learning about the disease and raising funds for the campaign.

The campaign had been launched at the 2011 diocesan convention by the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina and Co-Chair of the national NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund Campaign Advisory Committee. Bishop Curry challenged the diocese to raise one mosquito net for each communicant, prompting parishes and diocesan groups to find creative ways to help reach the ambitious goal.

At a subsequent meeting of the North Carolina youth ministers, the group decided to have one of the upcoming youth events support the bishop’s challenge, said Pam Hatley, Director of Youth Ministry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Mooresville. Playing off of the “nets” theme, the idea of volleyball came up, and the planning took off from there. “We brainstormed on the flyer, the title – everything just came together,” Pam said.

Young people from grades 6 through 12 took part, representing four Episcopal churches: St. Patrick’s; Trinity Church, Statesville; St. Luke’s, Salisbury; and St. Matthew/San Mateo, Salisbury. The youth each paid an entry fee of $12, or the cost of one mosquito net, and had the option of seeking additional donations from family and friends. “We wanted the kids to be able to participate in their own way,” Pam said.

On the day of the tournament, about 50 youth gathered at a local school gym. The event kicked off with an icebreaker in which the kids had to unscramble and correctly arrange the words from Mark 2:4, about the paralyzed man whose friends wanted Jesus to heal him: “When they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay” (NRSV).The youth then discussed the verse, what the man’s friends did for him, and ways that they could be a “friend” to people who are at risk of malaria.

After everyone had a chance to get to know each other, the games began. The kids were divided into five teams that included participants from all four churches, to further encourage them to meet new people. Each team played every other team in a round robin, with the results recorded on a large scoreboard. During each round, one team had a bye, and used that time to further study Mark 2:4. The team members also did an activity from Episcopal Relief & Development’s Act Out malaria lesson: Like the friends of the paralyzed man in the Scripture verse, they attempted to carry one of their teammates with a blanket.

As the tournament ended, the team that won the most matches was declared the winner, Pam noted, however, as the event was really about the fellowship and learning, “We were all winners, because we were helping to fight malaria.” Then, while enjoying pizza, the youth and leaders watched two videos, NetsforLife®: Instilling a Net Culture” and “Moustique.” The evening concluded with a short prayer service for people affected by malaria, with the kids reading Prayers of the People from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Our volleyball tournament was a big success and we raised over $800 for NetsforLife®!” Pam said. “It was a really fun event and we would be glad to have others ‘borrow’ the idea.”

“Youth have played a vital role in leading local NetsforLife® campaigns through the church,” said Joy Shigaki, Director of the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund and Church Campaigns at Episcopal Relief & Development. “‘Let’s Spike Malaria’ is a great example of how young people are contributing their amazing enthusiasm, creativity and passion to our collective fight against malaria.”

Through May 25, you can double your impact in helping to beat malaria! Generous donors are matching every gift received for the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund, dollar-for-dollar, up to $430,000. Visit the Inspiration Fund website to learn more.

To learn more about how to hold a NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund volleyball tournament, contact Pam Hatley at


Photos courtesy of Pam Hatley.