Students walk to help African children

By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
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Local school kids have joined forces to help children in Uganda have access to safe, clean water. Students at Penryn Elementary and H. Clarke Powers Elementary schools are working to raise funds to build a well at the Agoma Primary School in Uganda, so that children have a reliable source of clean water. The schools are hosting Walk for Water at 8 a.m., Saturday, April 21, that includes music, refreshments, a clothes swap, and a plant sale featuring vegetable plants from the Powers School garden. Karen Lockwood, Penryn School second grade teacher, said, “I had done a couple of small-scale service projects before, but I felt like we’re such a small school it would be exciting to have all of us participate for one common goal.” After learning about the project, Karen Lockwood’s husband, Glenn Lockwood, who is the Principal at Powers School, said he wanted his students to participate. He said each grade level had completed a different service project in the past, but he wanted all of his students to be “talking the same language.” “I wanted my eighth grade students to be able to talk to my second grade students about the same project,” he said. “I wanted the kids to be able to go room-to-room and know we’re all on the same team.” Students from both local schools are learning about the impacts of living without clean water through their partnership with H2O for Life. Karen Lockwood said her students are in disbelief when they see the dirty water the children in Uganda and their families must drink and bathe in. “They don’t understand why the kids in Uganda don’t have access to water and we do,” she said. According to Steve Hall, with H2O for Life, retrieving water often requires the youngest girls in a family to walk more than six hours a day. “If we can bring water to these schools the students in Uganda, mainly the girls, don’t have to spend their days carrying water and they can actually attend school,” Hall said. Since August, students at Penryn and Powers schools have been working to raise funds for the project. They hope to raise $6,500, which will be matched by A Drop in the Bucket, a Los Angeles-based organization that will drill the well. Last month, Laurie Balsano, Powers eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher and student council advisor, and seventh and eighth grade student council members visited businesses in Loomis to tell them about the project and ask for donations. Balsano said they received a $20 cash donation from a customer at one of the businesses, and the Pizza Factory has hosted two dine out evenings. According to Balsano, her students have been impacted by what they have learned. “We can tell them the facts, but until they see the photos of the children with dirty water, it doesn’t really sink in,” she said. According to Balsano, once the students actually see the conditions and the water these students drink and cook with, they understand how a child dies every 20 seconds as a result of water-related illness. “This program has really brought the world to Loomis,” she said. Karen Lockwood agrees that the program does a good job of educating the students about the situation in Uganda and it also shows them there is something they can do. “What’s so cool is that our two schools alone are just what the Agoma School needs,” she said. “So when there’s water at that school in Uganda, it’s directly because of H. Clarke Powers School and Penryn School.” Walk for Water What: 5K walk, plant sale, and clothing swap to raise funds to build a well in Uganda Who: H. Clarke Powers Elementary and Penryn Elementary school and the publid When: 8 a.m., Saturday, April 21 Where: H. Clarke Powers Elementary School, 3296 Humphrey Road Cost: Minimum $20 donation Information: Walk 663-3993 or 652-2635; H2O for Life