29 Apr High school students champion global water crisis at Walk for Water in Napa
Clean water. You expect it every time you turn on the faucet, but for millions of people around the world, access to clean water is not a luxury
Vintage High School senior Amanda Mooney first learned that sobering truth while scrolling through social media. She saw a post from the Thirst Project, a national nonprofit that provides young people with the tools to create awareness in their local communities about the global water crisis.
“I was aware there was a water crisis, but I didn’t realize how big it was,” said Mooney, who is president of Vintage High’s Thirst Project chapter. “When I saw that 600 million people don’t have access to clean water, I was stunned. So when I learned the Thirst Project had a program for high schools, I knew I wanted to start a club on campus to generate awareness.”
According to the Thirst Project, 3.75 miles is the average distance a woman or child walks to reach a water source.
“It was a lot further than I thought,” said Vintage freshman Kelton Jensen after he completed the walk. “And that’s just to get to a water source. Imagine doing that carrying a big jug of water.”
A five-gallon jerry can, a common tool for hauling water in third-world countries, can weigh up to 40 pounds when filled with water. Carrying this much weight for great distances can cause neck and back injuries, according to the Thirst Project.
Vintage students posted signs around the campus quad with details about jerry cans and other issues about the global water crisis to inspire walkers.
“When Amanda told me about the Thirst Project and its mission, I was on board right away,” said Bailey Sone, Vintage senior and vice president of the Vintage Thirst Project. “Water is essential for human life to thrive. And as we learned more about the water crisis, we realized there is a plethora of issues associated with not having access to clean water.”
Stone said she was taken aback to learn about all of the diseases that can be transmitted through dirty water. She said she was also surprised to learn that some people spend 6-8 hours a day collecting water for their families and villages.
Calvin Bird, who was also recruited by Mooney to launch a Thirst Project club at Vintage, said he and other club members will walk around campus holding water bottles with contaminated water to help illustrate the magnitude of the global water crisis.
“We put mud in the water bottles and then walk up to people and ask them if they’d be willing to drink it,” said Bird, a Vintage High senior. “Of course they say ‘no’ and then we tell them about the Thirst Project and the fundraising we’re doing. We get a lot of pocket change, but some students give us $5 at a time. Every little bit helps.”
As part of the Thirst Project, Vintage students have been raising funds to help build water wells in the Kingdom of eSwatini – formerly Swaziland – a landlocked country in southern Africa.
It takes $12,000 to fund a water well mission through the Thirst Project. This year, Vintage students raised enough money to launch their first project, but they aren’t stopping there.
Mooney’s passion for the Thirst Project inspired Averi Dropping, a junior at New Tech High School, to start a club at her school. This year, New Tech students joined the Walk for Water in hopes of creating more community awareness.
“Most of the clubs at New Tech are for hobbies,” Dropping said. “But I was looking for a club that has some element of volunteerism – something that would make a difference. When Amanda told me about the Thirst Project, I realized that as big as the global water crisis is, there are things we can do – even as high school students – to bring about change.”
New Tech’s Thirst Project club has raised more than $1,000 in its first year, and Dropping said she’s looking forward to building the club and finding new members. She said she’s also in talks with students at Napa High School to form a third Thirst Project chapter in Napa.
“We spread the message about the global water crisis on social media, and we host activities on campus, but this is something the whole community can get involved with,” Dropping said. “We’d love for the Walk for Water to be something that all of Napa participates in.”
Last year’s inaugural event raised $4,300. This year, with more participants, Mooney said she hopes to raise $5,000. In addition to asking for a walk registration fee, Thirst Project students sold raffle tickets to raise additional funds, and local hot dog vendor That’s My Dawg, which was stationed at the post-walk rally, pledged to donate 10 percent of its event proceeds to the Thirst Project.
Since forming in 2008, the Thirst Project has implemented nearly 2,900 water ventures in 13 countries, serving approximately 400,000 people.