It’s been a hairy day of stressful mayhem, as I slid in my socks on the linoleum floor of digital deadlines to file my grant app for the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media Learning Competition with literally about 2 minutes to spare.
Between technical glitches and last minute shifts in recommendation letters I found myself in that intense phase of heart palpitating “I’ll never do this again” self-made mantras, as I blasted out the door to be at the rival team’s undefeated middle school volleyball match feeling like a Gumby doll stretched waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too thin.
But you know what? At least I had water.
That’s right. That calming, clear fluid that trickles down the throat in thirst quenching goodness that a billion people on our planet don’t have access to, and that we as Americans take for granted. Kids brush their teeth as it runs down the drain, we wash cars, dogs, clothes, and hair with narry a thought. Yet kids all over the world walk miles to get potable sustenance.
Yep, today is “Blog Action Day,” —a nonprofit, grassroots movement of thousands of individual bloggers coming together to unite for one cause. This year it’s poverty, and my thoughts go to “Global Water” and random kids.
Dr. Tim W. Foresman is part of our fabulous NextNow collaboratory, author of the fabulous eco-children’s book ‘The Last Little Polar Bear,” and head ‘Poobah’ for ISDE5 International Digital Earth Symposium that Shaping Youth participated in last year…
Tim Foresman is also the President of Global Water, an international nonprofit humanitarian organization that is vital to lifting villages out of poverty in developing countries. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so.
Global Water takes elements of life very precious to us here at Shaping Youth…women and children, often responsible for gathering the family’s daily nourishment of water from afar…And then they dig beneath the surface to note it’s perhaps the root cause of hunger, disease and poverty throughout the developing world. Lack of safe, sanitary access to water.
So here we are, fat cats in a consumption-driven society of buy, buy, baby, and Global Water is working directly with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to build hygiene-related facilities for rural villagers in developing countries to create sustainable socioeconomic development and lift themselves out of poverty.
Makes kids fretting over a Halloween costume appear a bit scary, eh?
Did I mention Global Water is volunteer-based and no one receives a salary? Yah, didn’t think so.
Granted, I’m in the same boat with Shaping Youth right now, but I see that as a temporary, solvable conundrum…
So where do the kids come in? What does Shaping Youth have to do with this?
Why have I selected Global Water as my Blog Action Day blurb? Quite simple, really. It all flows together.
Shaping Youth uses water as a media literacy branding exercise in our ongoing work, where we ask kids to ‘brand’ and package their own version of water. “What would you call it? Who would promote it? How would you package it? Does it come with a jingle? A jazzy label? An ‘all natural’ purity product claim?”
Kids brainstorm and collaborate with peers, then vote and tally as we move on to counter-market the entire concept of bottled water, showing the waste in our country, needlessly derived from overly packaged pristine filtration that is more often than not, just a marketing deployment to hawk liquid coolness cache.
(Admittedly, those sleek Fiji bottles catch my eye every time I schlepp into exercise class with my refillable tap jug, then I snap out of it)
Where does Dr. Foresman’s Global Water come in?
Well, 1.5 million children die every year, under age five, due to unsafe drinking water. That’s one every 8 seconds. Global Water funds projects like this to increase awareness about water problems and solutions in the developing world…and spreads the word to get K-8 students involved. Here are just a few ways mentioned:
· Give a presentation to your class to raise awareness about the importance of water for human needs.
· Spark a class discussion with an essay contest or a debate on the topic — Is safe water a human right? If so, should a developing country’s leaders provide safe water to all their citizens (as developed countries now do)?
· Begin a school-wide pledge to conserve water. Or pick another water-related topic like pollution.
· Start a fundraising effort with your school on behalf of Global Water; to use to help pay for safe water systems, latrines and hygiene-related facilities, or contact Global Water about creative fundraising.
But wait, as the infomercials say, there’s more! Check THIS out:
Talia Leman, a middle schooler herself is CEO and Founder (yah, you read that right) of “RandomKid” leveraging a delightfully philanthropic spin on vanity plates (er, bottles) as a fundraiser selling your own “uniquely designed private-labeled bottled water.”
This label was designed by kids at a California school to fundraise for Play Pumps.org in Africa, which you may have seen on the news lately…Essentially…kids play, water pumps, in a merry-go-round win-win of whimsy and pragmatism. It’s fabulous.
RandomKid describes their free service,
“Once you decide who you will provide aid for, you will develop a water product, including the label, tagline, artwork, and label information. We provide all the templates, arrange for the labels to be made and for the bottled water to be manufactured and delivered to you. We supply purified natural spring water in recyclable bottles. We are also glad to share the successful marketing strategies developed by other participating groups.”
This is a really, really, innovative fundraising concept and should be in the GreenRaising article I just wrote for Eco Child’s Play.
RandomKid has many other bright ideas for children’s feel good factor, but it’s hard to beat literally giving the gift of life, with water.
Here’s the RandomKid “Uniqueness Chart“ put together by Global Water so you can see their education into action model. Kids will no doubt see their own impact in cycle-breaking kids out of poverty…
Now that I know more about this amazing project created by kids for kids, I’ll do a follow up story and integrate this into our own media literacy enrichment sessions!!
As they say in their own vision statement, they strive to “Take the goodness of a child, and turn it into goodness for the world.””
Here’s more on who you’ll help, as you use Global Water to lift kids out of poverty:
“You will have the opportunity to learn about the scope of the world’s water crisis and the technologies available. We have a special photo essay that we will share with you from UNICEF, that describes the state of the world’s water, along with video and article links about various technologies and their impact.
You can choose where you help, who you help and how you help, by reviewing selected projects in in Africa, Asia and South & Central America, where the needs are most dire. We are also glad to choose for you. What you raise will directly fund a specific project. You are welcome to fund your project solely with your group, or coordinate with other groups or schools we work with in order to combine funds for shared projects. The two outstanding organizations our kids have chosen to support right now are: Global Water.org and Play Pumps.org”
Facts At A Glance from Global Water and Random Kid:
· 1 billion people on our planet do not have access to clean, safe water
· 25,000 people die daily from water-related illnesses
· 1.5 million children, under the age of 5, die each year as a result of this crisis–that’s one every 8 seconds
· By providing access to clean, safe water, you are SAVING LIVES.
· By providing access to clean, safe water, you are bringing solutions to hunger, disease and poverty. With clean, safe water, people can not only care for themselves nutritionally and hygienically, they can also grow food, and build industries