For the fourth year, the Small World Initiative® is challenging students to do something about superbugs and the growing global antibiotic crisis in recognition of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) Annual Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 18th-24th) and global activities from the World Health Organization and other stakeholders. During the month of November, we are teaming up with the CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Sociedad Española de Microbiología, and other partners to encourage students to do something about the antibiotic crisis. Superbugs are causing a global crisis, killing more than 700,000 people each year. If we do not take significant action now, superbugs will become a leading cause of death worldwide by 2050, killing more people than cancer and diabetes combined. We must all do our part and work together to solve the greatest public health emergency of our time. This year, for the first time ever, we are inviting Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas to take action and enter the Challenge! If you are a student or Girl Scout and would like to participate, please read the challenge announcement and rules below. If you would like to see the creative and impactful ways students around the world are taking action on one of the most pressing global challenges of our time, check out last year’s entries here.
Announcement & Challenge Rules
The Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge™
Are you a current/former Small World Initiative® student or Girl Scout of Northeast Texas?
Enter our Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge™ to make a difference and win a prize.
The Small World Initiative is teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Sociedad Española de Microbiología (SEM), and others to encourage you to do something about the antibiotic crisis in recognition of the CDC’s Annual Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 18th-24th). This coincides with global activities from the World Health Organization, European Union, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and similar organizations in Canada and Australia.
As Small World Initiative students know, antibiotic resistance – when bacteria stop responding to the drugs designed to kill them – is projected to become the most important medical challenge of the 21st century (WHO). In 2016, the United Nations called antibiotic resistance “the greatest and most urgent global risk.” Without action, we risk turning back the clock to a world where simple infections could kill otherwise healthy individuals just as they did prior to the discovery of antibiotics. In the US alone, superbugs (pathogens resistant to existing antibiotics) lead to more than 2 million illnesses, 23,000 deaths, and $35 billion in economic losses (CDC). Due to poor surveillance and reporting of superbug infections, some estimate the number of deaths in the US to be nearly 7-times higher than the CDC estimate (more than 153,000 deaths) (Kollef). The CDC has even warned that more than 800,000 Americans may soon be at risk of acquiring untreatable gonorrhea each year. If we continue on our current path and no significant action is taken by 2050, superbugs will kill 300 million people – more than cancer and diabetes combined (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance). Yet, pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from developing new antibiotics in favor of more lucrative ventures, and improper use of existing antibiotics exacerbates the problem.
We are running out of time on confronting one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Yet, we possess the ingenuity to solve this problem, and we already understand the key causes and many of the possible solutions. It is not too late if we respond effectively with global collaboration. You have a very important role to play in stemming antibiotic resistance, and we are calling on you to do something.
By far, the single most important action to slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to improve the mass-scale misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture. Up to half of all antibiotics use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Each year in the US alone, doctors write at least 80 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing a national priority (CDC). On top of that, animals consume more than twice as many medically important antibiotics as humans, and nearly all of this consumption is for growth promotion or prophylactic (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance).
Other factors include inadequate prevention and control of infections related to poor hygiene (wash hands!), access to proper sanitation and safe water, and immunization. In addition to taking action to slow the spread of infections, we need to employ collaborative ways to find new antibiotics, and we need more people to join and support the Small World Initiative in our endeavor to crowdsource antibiotic discovery.
Consider what impactful action you can take to help solve the public health emergency of our time. What can you do to help raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and get others to act?
How to Enter
All current and former SWI students and Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas are eligible to enter. (You may enter as a team or individually.)
Do something about superbugs and the antibiotic crisis! Use one of our ideas (below) or create your own.
Share what you did online via Twitter with @Team_SWI, Instagram smallworldinitiative, and/or through SWI’s Facebook Group Page (Small World Initiative: Global Community). Include the following hashtags: #dosomething #BeAntibioticsAware #AntibioticResistance #superbugs. (Remember…if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Don’t let your important actions go unnoticed. Announce them online!) (Note: If you are a GSNET, get permission from your troop volunteer.)
Submit a copy of your entry online using either the Small World Initiative current/former student entry form OR the Girl Scouts entry form. Include a description of your entry, any attachments (e.g., images, videos, etc.), where you posted your entry (Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook), and your contact information. To increase the judges’ understanding of the depth and reach of your project’s impact, this is a great place to provide any additional information that might not be obvious from the online post. For example, if you post a song or video, the judges can see how many people viewed it on YouTube or liked it on Twitter or Facebook. However, if you also played it for an audience at your school, the judges cannot see this information and would love to know how many people saw it and what actions you took to share your project.
Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge Ideas
Use these ideas or create your own! (Remember to get permission from your instructor if you are doing something on campus.)
Make a Video – Be a director and/or an actor in your own medical genre classic bringing viewers on your journey to learn about the antibiotic crisis. Consider answering some of the following questions: What are superbugs? Why should you be concerned? What can you do about it? Do your peers have any misconceptions about superbugs or how to use antibiotics? Where would you expect to find microbes that produce antibiotics? (For ideas, check out past entries and other cool videos below.)
Organize an Event – Ever want to share your research with the community? Maybe, you want to host an open house and walk others through what you are doing and why it is important. Are you a movie lover? Consider screening an outbreak-style film with an important message on how to keep that from happening in real life. Like games? Consider hosting a tournament to play Gut Check or Pandemic.
Bake for Antibiotic Resistance – Do you like to practice your plating skills in the kitchen? Wonder what impact eating icing streaked, Petri-dish shaped cookies has on people? Hold an antibiotic-themed bake sale.
Measure – Wonder how many people at your school really wash their hands after using the restroom? Curious about whether your classmates demand antibiotics every time they feel sick? Create a mini-study and share your results. How does your school compare to national averages? What recommendations do you have for improvement?
Write a Song – Did you ever want to join The Voice but did not know how to incorporate your love for microbiology? Not a great singer but enjoy lip syncing while digging in soil and hunting for microbes? Make a funny song or lip sync about something related to antibiotic resistance. Check out these great entries.
Fundraise – Add a fundraising element to your action. Consider using funds to help students at your school attend the Small World Initiative Symposium or donating to help the Small World Initiative train more educators from under-resourced schools. Film screenings and bake sales can have a fundraising element. Or, maybe, you want to design a catchy t-shirt on antibiotic resistance. Even better, create the next ice bucket challenge. Be sure to get permission from your instructor first. Let us know what you raise so that we can announce it.
Write a Comic – Consider creative ways to reach a new audience.
Team: Lauren Jasper & Emma Schell; The Ellis School; SWIPI: Dr. Kassandra Wadsworth.
Passionate about something else? Consider how you might incorporate that into our do something challenge.
We are excited to announce several award packages from the NIH, CDC, SEM, and other partners! Details will be confirmed soon and posted here. To see prize packages from last year, please click here.
Saturday, November 30th
SWI Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge™ Toolkit (posters, flyer, handouts, and logo) (coming soon)
WHO Materials (coming soon)
How Winners Are Selected
Winners will be selected based on the depth and reach of the impact of their actions. A Selection Committee will be made up of judges from the Small World Initiative, CDC, NIH, and other partners. Any conflicted parties will not vote on the final winner.
Don’t be offensive! While we understand that there is sometimes a fine line between what one person considers funny and another person considers offensive, SWI leadership will make final determinations on what is offensive. Any offensive entries should be immediately taken down upon request.
By submitting an entry, entrants grant Small World Initiative® and Challenge partners an irrevocable license to use, repost, and publish entries. Entrants will be credited if/when their entries are used.
The Small World Initiative’s Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge™ is part of our Do Something Challenge™ series. For more information, please call us at 347-762-4818 or contact us.
The Small World Initiative® is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, and donations to SWI are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.