Personal trainer Joe Wicks has praised the efforts of young people in the fight against malaria after investigating the disease in Sierra Leone.
The Body Coach journeyed to the West African nation’s rural Port Loko district and the capital, Freetown, to learn about Comic Relief’s efforts to eradicate the disease in the country.
Wicks visited a hospital, radio station and a gym in a community hit hardest by malaria – a disease which kills a child under the age of five every two minutes.
He met Mohamad, who set-up the gym and is training as a journalist to report the disease thanks to Comic Relief’s funding.
“The people I met blew me away, especially Mohamad, who you meet in the film,” Wicks said.
“He’s overcome so much in his life and is now training to be a citizen journalist to help educate people about malaria … a lot of what I saw is being driven by young people, which I love – young people have a lot to give.”
Wicks added he felt “really emotional” at times, and shared his shock after visiting a breeding spot for the disease in Mohamad’s community.
“The living conditions are so harsh and it makes malaria an even bigger problem. You can see mosquito breeding sites everywhere you look.
“I think what’s shocked me the most is that people aren’t fazed by it – malaria’s not seen as a big deal because it’s so common. It’s like people have just accepted that it’s part of life for them, but it shouldn’t be that way.”
“The energy and momentum in Sierra Leone is amazing and I truly believe that all the things I’ve seen will have a positive effect on those communities,” he said.
Sport Relief takes place between March 17 and March 23.