By Gerard Gough

AN INNOVATIVE new fundraiser—launched at the beginning of this month by Missio Scotland—is inviting Catholic schoolchildren to go the extra mile for those living in missionary territories throughout the world.

Kerry Shearer, fundraising manager for Missio Scotland and Gerard Gough, the charity’s communications officer, were joined by pupils from St Patrick’s Primary School in Coatbridge and Albion Rovers FC coach Tony McMinn at Cliftonhill—the home of the club—to film a special video to mark the launch of the fundraiser.

Missio Scotland is the Scottish branch of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS)—Pope Francis’ own charity and official mission aid agency of the Catholic Church—and the pupils were certainly on a mission to help out as they debuted their acting skills and learned more about the charity.

“The schoolchildren were an absolute joy to work with on the day, bringing colour and vibrancy to the launch and their support was greatly appreciated,” Kerry said. “We are always extremely proud of the work that our Catholic school communities undertake in raising funds for Missio Scotland and we hope that they’ll continue that work by getting involved with the Mile for Mission fundraiser.”

The Mile for Mission initiative aims to raise awareness of the struggle that many children living in mission territories worldwide face, with a fun and engaging activity for pupils.

Everyday across the world there are children who have to walk miles upon miles to attend school. In Lusaka, Zambia there was no local school for the children, instead they walked for six miles to school and six miles home—a huge distance to cover to access education. Missio Scotland was one of the main players in helping to raise money to build a school more locally for these children and this year, more blocks are being built to help with the demand for places.

Children in Scotland sometimes don’t understand how far children—like those in Lusaka— have to walk for school. Walking a mile is achievable for most pupils and can help them appreciate and be thankful for the school and teachers that they have.

During the month of October—Mission Month—Missio Scotland is asking every Catholic Primary School in Scotland to hold a Mile for Mission fundraiser. The concept is simple—measure a mile in the school play area and co-ordinate pupils to walk one mile. A measured mile also can help contribute towards goals in the Curriculum for Excellence, in particular physical activity and sport.

A small collection can be made before or after the ‘Mile for Mission’ to donate to Missio Scotland. Older children help to measure the mile too, to help with their understanding of distance measurements and using tools such as a trumeter. However, if one mile is thought to be too far to walk, a relay could be created instead.

Moreover, given that each mission continent is represented by a colour—Africa (green), Americas (red), Europe (white), Oceania (blue) and Asia (yellow)—pupils or classes could be chosen to wear their missionary colour to represent a particular continent.

The funds raised by schoolchildren throughout Scotland via the Mile for Mission fundraiser will go to the Missionary Children branch of the PMS, the Church’s Mission Charity for children, whose motto is ‘Children Helping Children.’ In Scotland, it works in tandem with Catholic Primary Schools and asks children to do two things every day—pray for the children in mission areas of the world and donate a small coin. Missionary Children joins with children all over the world to help some of the poorest children in the world, children of all faiths or none and also seeks to develop young people and prepare them as the missionaries of the future. Its funds help to build clinics, supply medicines and nutritional help, and support education projects for children (building, funding and supplying schools). The donations help to develop a child both in an educational and spiritual sense.

To watch the launch video visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DigRBjyQvmQ

To learn more about the Mile for Mission fundraiser visit: http://www.missio.scot/mile-for-mission

To download a Mile for Missio poster visit: http://missio.scot/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2-Mile-for-Mission.pdf

gerard@missio.scot