On Thursday, March 22, teacher Alison Adams asked her kindergarten students at Monarch K-8 in Louisville to walk a mile, carrying full gallon jugs of water. Along the way, they stopped to rest; some adjusted the weight of the jugs as they walked; others asked for help from older students or parents. But none of the five- and six-year-olds complained, and no one quit.
“Oh, we trained for it,” says Adams, who facilitated the event to raise awareness for World Water Day.
According to the United Nations World Water Day website, more than 663 million people worldwide are living without a safe water supply close to home, and spend countless hours a day walking to distant water sources. About 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
To prepare for the event, Adams had her students pass full jugs of water to one another. They walked a quarter mile with jugs, then a half mile, then three quarters of a mile, before the final event. Adams partnered with the Boulder-based Maji Safi Group, which works to provide clean, treated water to rural Tanzania by educating Tanzanians about proper water sanitation and hygiene, and improving the infrastructure of clean water such as wells and toilets. Students were asked to collect pledges prior to their walk to raise money for Maji Safi Group’s work, which totaled $867.20.
Adams says that planning for the event began with the class nursery rhyme unit. When they read, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,” a child asked, “Why did they do that?” In addition, Monarch’s kindergarten class sets a goal of facilitating some type of project each month that fosters kindness—so the water walk fit right in.
“I feel truly blessed to be able to combine two of my greatest passions together—teaching and the world water crisis,” says Adams. “It humbles me how children will always rise [to] the occasion when given a challenge—and kindergarten kids don’t doubt they can help change the world and make a difference. That’s the most important thing they should learn at this age.”
Families of the kindergartners were encouraged to participate—one family even took on the challenge of hauling five gallons of water along the route—and the adults were impacted by the experience, too.
Kindergarten parent Annabel Stelling saw many additional benefits that the fundraiser provided. “Every day, [my daughter Lyric] reminds us how precious water is,” Stelling says. “At age five, to understand that concept, and to have a teacher who is so focused on the big picture, is incredible. The lessons they’ve learned are like gold.”
How Families Can Help
Erna Maj, fundraising and outreach coordinator for Maji Safi Group, encourages families and student groups to check out Maji Safi’s Young Global Citizens page (on the website under United States Programs). Students can combine water crisis fundraising and awareness with many activities such as:
- Soap making classes
- Soccer tournaments
- Art classes
Contact Erna Maj at Maji Safi Group for more details on what students can do: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maji Safi Group