When I was working in Corpus Christi Junior High School we often raised money for charity.
One of the best ideas I ever had was sponsored Snail Racing.
It beat selling cakes by a Gastropod Mile!
The children really enjoyed the whole procedure, which lasted a fortnight.
In our tutor room we had an open locker cupboard - it was divided into square compartments, but had no doors.
At the tutor group meeting I emphasized that we would need to be very gentle with our snails,and I would expect them to be returned to their homes after the race in perfect mental and physical health.
We had twelve cubicles in the cupboard, and the snails would be kept in clean glass jars,as large as possible, and fed and trained during break-times.
Fresh greenstuff must be provided daily.
First of all, we had to find twelve racing snails.
Strong, healthy snails should be selected(young snails are faster, but their shells are more fragile).
The jars should be large ( I provided a cider-jar for one) and clean,and should be labelled with the name of the contestant.
There must be a cover for the jar, which would have holes for air.
The names chosen were interesting.
After so many years, I can't remember them all, but there was Speedy Gonzalez, QE2, Road Runner,Flash Harry, and Concorde! The carefully selected snails were brought in the next day,and their glass homes were duly labelled.
Every morning at breaktime the owners,armed with lettuce, oats(considered a special treat) and paintbrushes, hurried in for a training session.
They would use a large plate, dip the brush in water and make a little wet track on the plate.
With luck, the snail would wake up, venture out into the damp course and, tempted by dangling lettuce and encouraging words, race very slowly across the plate.
Meanwhile, George prepared a racetrack.
He used a thin, long formica remnant; insulating tape in yellow and bright blue marked out the individual tracks and the start and finish lines.
It was very smart indeed, or so we thought.
On the day of the Grand Charity Fair our contribution gathered quite a crowd of spectators, and the race was a great success. Incredibly,one of the snails actually reached the finishing line, although several of them wandered across the track divide and there were non-finishers.
Three of the leading snails were photographed for the local paper, with their proud owner-
I am happy to say that all our racing snails were returned to their garden homes, unscathed by their experience.