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UT Elementary Students Step into the Lives of African Children at Walk4Water Fundraiser

UT Elementary students Walk 4 Water

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UT Elementary’ s fifth-grade class will lead the seventh annual Walk4Water event to raise money for African children in need of clean drinking water this Saturday, 10 a.m. at the Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. The event is hosted by H20 for Life, a nonprofit that promotes social awareness through service-learning projects.

Carrying bottles filled with water from Ladybird Lake, the students will walk 6 kilometers (nearly 4 miles) in solidarity with young Africans who must make this pilgrimage with a heavy load of water on a daily basis.  The goal is to raise money for this year’s sponsored school, and to also teach important lessons in empathy and gratitude.

As part of UT Elementary’ s social and emotional curriculum, the fifth-graders learn about the scarcity of clean drinking water in Africa, and the sacrifices young girls their age must make in order to survive. Although the majority of students at UT Elementary qualify for free and reduced lunches based on family income levels, they often remark on how much they take for granted, says Scarlett Calvin, UT Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade teacher.

“We focus on accountability, responsibility, cooperation—and Walk4Water is a great way for them to connect to all of those character traits,” says Calvin who is coordinating this year’s fundraiser. “In the fifth grade, our social studies curriculum isn’t just about history, it’s about stepping into other people’s lives.”

image of walk Leading up to the event, the students worked on a range of projects, including promotional videos, T-shirt sales and a coin drive. All proceeds will go toward building water catchment tanks and latrines for this year’s sponsored school, the Nasaruni Academy for Maasai Girls in Kenya. The fundraising goal is $1,040, which UT Elementary aims to surpass. Last year the fifth-graders exceeded their goal and reached $2,600, and in 2014, they raised more than $1,700.  Go to this site to make a donation.

Calvin is proud of the work her students have accomplished and is excited to watch them take their first steps—literally—toward becoming global citizens at the culminating Walk4Water event. This is one of many service-learning projects embedded in the school’s curriculum. Last fall, Calvin’s class participated in the Buddy Walk and raised $1,700 for the Down Syndrome Association for Central Texas.

“Our philanthropy projects help prepare students for success in school and in their daily lives,” she adds. “They often tell me that they really appreciate what they have, and that they’re able to understand and respect others outside their community.”