Recently, Cecilia Allen, an educator from HB Woodlawn School in Arlington, Virginia sent us the following email:
“I thought you’d appreciate this…Today as I was asking kids to tell me of their weekend exploits, several commented on having spent Saturday taking the SAT exam. When I lamented them having to give up a weekend day to testing, two kids perked up and said ” …you’ll never guess what the essay question was!,” so I asked them…their reply ” Do you think it’s important for young people to help those who are disadvantaged ?” then they added “… & guess what we wrote about???? …H2O for Life!!! & all the cool ways we’ve helped kids in Cameroon and Bangladesh and Haiti!”I realized then what an impact your program has had on my teaching and my students…Thank you H20 for Life.” Cecilia
Why I work with H2O for Life
By Cecilia Allen
As an Arlington Public Schools educator for more than 22 years I have always sought to infuse my curriculum with worthy lessons and to push my students beyond what they think they are capable of achieving. As a teacher of world languages, teaching culture and current events is part of what I do every day. In 2009, through the help of a good friend at the State Department, I met Patty Hall, founder of H2O for Life.
Using the Toolkit provided by H20 for Life I incorporated lessons related to geography as well as science into my daily lessons. My students learned of the need for clean water in the developing world and about the water cycle and of the dangers of disease transmission through foul water. They were shocked and saddened to learn that girls their age often stopped attending school once they reached puberty due to the lack of access to toilets. They couldn’t believe how much time kids lost out of a school day walking to gather water from the village well. It taught them to look at our schools and realize how privileged we are and how much we take for granted on a daily basis. But most importantly, my students became very excited in fundraising for projects: in 2009 it was the Tobin Primary Government school in Yaounde, Cameroun. They set a goal of $2,000 and raised the funds through bake sales and a dance. They enjoyed writing to the children in Cameroun and receiving their letters. In the years that followed we completed projects in Haiti and Bangladesh totaling more than $20,000. This year our efforts are focused on the Mapanga Primary school in Malawi.
As an educator I value lessons that promote global citizenship. Through our experiences fundraising for our peers in the developing world, my students have felt a responsibility to make a difference in this world. They are excited to help others and are filled with creative energy and ideas. As their teacher I simply channel their goodwill into a good cause. This year, we have partnered with Tuckahoe Elementary School and will share the message of this responsibility to make a difference in the world with them. Our goal as a caring community is to educate every young person in our midst about the need for clean water around the world.
Working through H2O for Life has given us a greater purpose in our day to day educational setting and the satisfaction gleaned from our experiences will stay with us for many years to come. We hope to help as many young people in need as possible and to try to level the playing field so that EVERY child in this world has an equal shot at growing up healthy and acquiring a decent education.
Check out this video about HB Woodlawn’s H2O project that appeared on Good Morning America: