Note: The Big Sunflower Project no longer distributes sunflower seeds, however participation is still welcomed from anyone who is willing to source their own seeds
The Big Sunflower Project was established in 2011 to raise awareness of the rare inherited neuromuscular conditions known as centronuclear and myotubular myopathy (CNM and MTM). The conditions manifest themselves as defects in the cell structure of voluntary muscles, causing low muscle tone and affecting children and adults at various stages of life.
The project raises awareness by asking people to grow a sunflower and share their sunflower photos on social media. It was founded by Toni Abram, after she was diagnosed with centronuclear myopathy, along with her father Mike.
Toni says ‘I have always loved the way that sunflowers grow to such dizzy heights, as if they are on a mission to touch the sky and nothing can hold them back. It occurred to me that many charity fundraising/awareness raising type projects involved people doing something physical – being sponsored to run, swim, climb or bicycle, something that even I, although ambulatory, would not be keen to do. However popping a seed in a pot and nurturing it for a few weeks was something most people could do, whatever their physical ability and that was very appealing to me, because it meant that those diagnosed with centronuclear and myotubular myopathy could take part too.’
Since the project began, sunflowers have been grown at schools and nurseries, by charities, community groups, groups that work with disadvantaged people and at youth groups, as well as by people affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, To date participants have joined the project from across the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the USA, the Middle East, Costa Rica, Argentina, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Croatia, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Lithuania, Greece and Poland.
Could you grow a sunflower to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy too? Taking part is easy.
1. Buy a packet of sunflower seeds.
2. Plant a seed in a sunny spot, water regularly and watch it grow.
3. Take a photo of your sunflower and share on social media using #TheBigSunflowerProject.