On February 22, 2012, the WaTER Center participated in a Help for Haiti Water Rally at Roosevelt Elementary School in Norman, Okla. Help for Haiti was a fundraiser organized by a Roosevelt parent whose son is adopted from Haiti. Students at Roosevelt raised over $11,000, which will purchase 250 ceramic pot water filters. To celebrate their accomplishments, Roosevelt Elementary hosted a rally, and the WaTER Center was invited to give a presentation on the need for clean water in Haiti.
Graduate student Hayley Ryckman, who spent two months working in Haiti during a cholera outbreak in 2010, spoke to Roosevelt students and their parents about the vast difference between water consumption in the U.S. (about 100 gallons per day per person) and Haiti (about 5 gallons per day per person).
Regarding her experience, Ryckman said, "I was so glad to see the energy, excitement, and motivation of the students at Roosevelt Elementary for wanting to reach out to the kids their age in Haiti by providing them with the means to have clean water, which will be able to prevent further sickness and death in these communities. I think the kids at Roosevelt really do realize how fortunate they are and have taught themselves, and reminded me (and most likely their families and teachers), that anything is possible when we put our hearts into it."
Participation in Help for Haiti is just one of the ways the WaTER Center is expanding its outreach initiatives in the local community by focusing on school children. Education is critical to long term improvements in the world water crisis, and young children, who seem to be especially adaptable and sensitive to the needs of others, are important to reach. Furthermore, K-12 outreach is needed in order to promote the theme of WASH to the next generation of scholars and citizens.
In addition to the Help for Haiti night, we hosted the first K-12 Clean Water Poster Contest at the 2011 OU International WaTER Conference. We had 146 participants from 14 schools in the Norman area. Students were asked to create an original piece of artwork that positively illustrated some aspect of water and sanitation. Students especially focused on conservation and sharing water. Watch the video below to view the students' excellent work.
Building on the success of these two events, the WaTER Center has determined to continue focusing outreach efforts toward school aged children and their families.