Grade 6 students from Northcott Prairie School put themselves in the shoes of those less fortunate last week, holding a “Walk For Water” event to raise funds and awareness for people around the world who do not have access to clean drinking water.
On the morning of June 23, students from Grade 6 teacher Chelsey Schubert’s class walked around the Hillcrest pond next to the Northcott Prairie School building while holding jugs of water. The initiative intended to represent how some people walk several miles just to access their drinking water.
Schubert said the activity was motivated by a book the students read earlier this year, titled A Long Walk to Water – a true story about the trials and tribulations of Salva Dut, a Sudanese citizen in the 1980s.
According to the book’s synopsis, Dut was separated from his family during a civil war in Sudan and was forced to travel on foot across the war-torn country. He eventually ended up in Kenya before immigrating to the United States, where he learned English and attends college. Years later, he returned to his home country to establish a foundation that installs drinking wells in remote villages.
Other Northcott Prairie School classes also took part in the initiative on June 23, taking turns walking around the pond throughout the school day while cars driving by on 40 Avenue honked their horns in support.
“I think it’s a really good idea that can help raise awareness and money to help those in need,” said Kenzie Acheson, one of Schubert's students who participated in the Walk For Water.
In addition to raising awareness, Schubert said her class worked hard this past year to raise money for WaterAid – an international non-governmental organization that aims to bring clean water to communities in need around the world. Schubert said the students raised about $1,000 for the organization this year.
While the Walk For Water event was mainly about altruism, Schubert said the initiative was also a way for students to develop resiliency strategies during what was a difficult school year, due to the constant shift back and forth between online and in-school learning.
“All of their normal things they love to do were kind of taken away from them,” she said, referencing restrictions brought on by COVID-19. “The theme of our year has been about being resilient and being able to bounce back, even in the face of adversity.
“When we read that book, it really brought a lot of awareness to other places in the world that have experienced other hardships.”
Adding to the theme of mental health resiliency, Schubert said her class listened to a presentation from members of Rocky View Schools’ Stepping Stones to Mental Health, who spoke to the class about how to have a resilient mindset.
“They came and connected with us about how acts of kindness can actually help us become more resilient, so we tied those two projects together – the book we read earlier this school year and the idea of demonstrating acts of kindness and altruism to develop our own set of resilient behaviours,” Schubert said.
Students in Schubert’s class said they enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the classroom on June 23, while partaking in a charitable act at the same time.
“COVID has put a lot of strain on our lives and made everything harder, but resilience helps you bounce back,” said student Claire Gutowski. “It can help you think on the positive side and tip your balance toward the positive side instead of thinking of the negatives.”