The drive for immunisation awareness
A book of polio-related stories has contributed to vaccination awareness in South Taranaki in more ways than one.
We Can Do Anything was written by polio-survivor Shirley Hazelwood, who is part of the Ethel Gray Charitable Trust.
Her book tells the stories of some of those who contracted poliomyelitis, more commonly known as polio, and how the disease affected their lives.
‘‘The book is made up of a whole lot of little stories from individuals in Taranaki who were brought down with polio,’’ trust chairman Barrie Smith said. ’’It’s [polio] devastating.’’
The book encourages people to get immunised. Polio killed, permanently paralysed or crippled many in New Zealand during the early 20th century and continued its deadly swathe through the population until the mid 1950s. Although nobody was immune, children were struck down more than adults. Thanks to immunisation, New Zealand has been polio free since 1970 but nobody can afford to be complacent.
Recently, the sales of Hazelwood’s books raised enough money for the trust to sign print a Taranaki District Heath Board (TDHB) car with important immunisation messages.
Smith said the trust had sufficient funds and thought sign printing the car was a good idea.
‘‘It promotes immunisation,’’ Smith said. ’’It’s a district health board car so they will drive it around.
‘‘It will be based in South Taranaki.’’
The TSB Community Trust recently gave the Ethel Gray Charitable Trust $1000 that they used to re-print another 48 We Can Do Anything books.
Smith said all of the extra books were given to libraries, and the TDHB to distribute around hospital and medical centre waiting rooms.
‘‘Our trust is representing all of Taranaki,’’ Smith said.
The Ethel Gray Charitable Trust was established in December 2015 following the winding up of the Taranaki Post-Polio Group, which has been co-ordinated by Hazlewood for 22 years.
She contracted polio at 13 months of age and has endured the results of this horrible disease since.
The trust was named after a well-respected nurse. Ethel Gray nursed at the Stratford Hospital during 1948 and contracted polio. She was put into an iron lung but passed away four days later.
The newly sign printed car with: (left) Mary Stanley, Doug Hutchinson, Barrie Smith, Barbara Williams, Melanie
Hurliman and Shirley Hazelwood, the author of We Can Do Anything, in the front.