Middle school students join forces to raise $1,100 for African water project
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN Eighth graders at Dassel-Cokato Middle School are making their lesson plans global by helping to raise funds for a water project at a Ugandan school.
Each year, eighth grade science and geography classes conduct an interdisciplinary water unit, focusing on available, clean drinking water, local treatment plants, and ground water issues.
As part of that unit this year, students have joined H2O for Life, a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that partners North American schools with schools around the world in need of clean drinking water and sanitation.
DC has adopted Kyentama Primary School in Uganda with the goal of raising $1,100 toward the digging of a well, improved restrooms, and sanitary hand-washing facilities.
“We feel that the H2O for Life project allows our students to demonstrate two of our character building pillars compassion and understanding diversity,” said Sue Sparboe, eighth grade science teacher.
“In addition, this project raises awareness of global water issues,” she added.
“We are fortunate to live in a water-rich state, but we cannot take this valuable resource for granted. H2O for Life is a great opportunity to promote water stewardship and make a difference in the lives of schoolchildren a world away,” Sparboe said.
In an effort to make a difference, the eighth graders have spearheaded a fundraising campaign, “One for Water.”
With “One for Water,” eighth grade students are asking fellow classmates to help by donating $1 to the Kyentama Primary School, rather than spending that dollar on candy or pop, for example.
Those students would then ask family and friends to also donate a dollar for the project.
The goal is to involve as many people as possible in raising the money without any door-to-door soliciting, Sparboe said.
Eighth grade students introduced the project to their individual power hours (home rooms) and began raising money last week.
Through this project, not only are the eighth graders learning about water issues around the world, but their younger classmates are, as well.
Ashton Cates, sixth grader, gave $1 to the project instead of buying a pop.
“By giving a $1, you can save somebody’s life,” said Mitch Fiecke, sixth grader.
“It feels good to be giving,” said Joel Carlson, eighth grader.
After the money is raised, the eighth grade students will get a chance to communicate via letters and photos with the students in Uganda.
It is estimated that 4,500 children die each day due to unsafe drinking water and a lack of basic sanitation, according to H2O for Life.
Because of the limited access to private sanitation facilities at schools, many children and teens especially girls cannot attend school.
In many communities, women and children spend up to 60 percent of each day walking to the source for water, according to the organization.
Eighth grade communications classes, like Sharon Wahala’s class, have also dedicated writing assignments so students can express their thoughts and feelings about the project through creative writing.
“It gives them a new sense of wanting to be a part of something,” Wahala said.
Through the students’ poetry, there is empathy for their Ugandan peers, according to Wahala.
Students’ work can be read on the middle school communications web sites.
Donations to H2O for Life can be made by downloading a form from the middle school web site, www.dc.k12.mn.us/ms/index.html, or dropping it off in the school’s office.
For more information about H2O for Life, visit www.h2oforlifeschools.org.