Juniper School students raised awareness of the lack of fresh water that affects many people around the world and celebrated raising enough money to dig a well in Kenya during their second-annual WE Walk for Water May 9.
“It started last year when our student council wanted to raise money for a water well in Kenya,” said Juniper principal Lucy Mayor. “We thought it would be a two-, three-year project since it’s $5,000 to purchase a well … through the WE project. I announced it today at one o’clock that the $5,000 has been raised with all their fundraising efforts in the last 13 months.”
Grade 8 student council member Darasimi (Debby) Oluboye said she became aware of unequal access to clean water before her family immigrated to Canada from Nigeria.
“Back home we had a tap but it didn’t work,” Oluboye explains, but they were better off than some people because they had a well in their own yard. “In the rural areas, you see a lot of people don’t have clean water. They have to go into the river. It’s dirty water, it’s not clean water, so they have to boil their water before they drink it and some people might not even have the opportunity to be able to boil the water and some just drink it that way and that is really why I think a lot of people get sick.”
Fellow student councillor Brooke Marfoke, also in Grade 8, didn’t expect she would still be at Juniper when the well-building fundraising goal was achieved.
“I thought we’d be off to the high school by the time we had the money raised,” she said.
The $5,000 came mainly from small fundraisers.
“A lot came from the little, little things like wearing a hat for $1 or movie nights and different things like that,” Oluboye said. “We’ve been doing lots and lots of fundraising.”
The well will be dug in a community that four Juniper staff members visited to build a school.
“Part of the experience that we did was going to fetch water, which was a whole day event, so that a family had water for the day,” said Mayor.
Access to water and other global issues like human rights are also part of the curriculum at Juniper.
“[Sheri] Porth has led a lot of the human rights conversations in class with these kids,” Mayor said. “Not only is it part of the student council but it’s definitely happening in the classroom as discussions around human rights and the issues.”
Water is also the subject of inquiry projects that all of Juniper’s classes are doing this year as part of the English Language Arts curriculum.
“Each classroom will be sharing an inquiry project on June 3 about water and what they’ve learned so some of them are doing things around pollution, some just the water cycle but there will be at least 14 different projects that will be on display in our multipurpose room about what the kids have learned,” Mayor says, though identifying the issues is only one piece of the puzzle. “Teachers have zeroed in on some of the things that we want to make sure kids know and how they can do action-type things to change some of this.”