A procession of Ray Shepherd Elementary students carrying water bottles could be seen making their way from their 1650 136 St. school to Crescent Park late last month in an effort to raise money for those without access to clean water.
The May 20 Walk for Water was a fundraiser organized by Grade 7s involved in Me to We, an international movement that mobilizes young people to make a difference.
The students’ goal was to raise $5,000 for a water and sanitation program in India through Free the Children, Me to We’s charity partner.
“The idea was we would walk to Crescent Park with an empty water bottle, then we filled it up with the tap outside the washrooms on the soccer fields (and) walked back to the school,” Grade 7 teacher Keri Stanger said, noting the water was dumped in rain barrels in the school’s courtyard, and will be used to water plants throughout the summer.
More than 300 children took part, with students below Grade 3 walking to a park near Laronde Elementary and the rest trekking to Crescent Park at 2440 128 St.
“It was a six-kilometre round trip, which was pretty similar to the kind of walks women and children make every single day in India just to get (clean) water,” Stanger said.
The school surpassed its fundraising goal, bringing in $5,905 by handing out pledge forms to family, friends and neighbours.
The accomplishment was recognized in a school assembly last week, when a Free the Children representative spoke about the program and thanked the students for contributing to it. Stanger said the students showed a great interest in the campaign, which brought in everything from pennies to $100-cheques.
“The school really showed that they cared, and it’s really student-driven. The kids collected all the money and every morning they would go around to the different classes and collect the money and they would count the money,” she said, noting the Grade 7s passed their enthusiasm onto their peers. “They really made the rest of the students in the school care about it.”