St. John’s Lutheran School “Walks for Water” at Merrill’s River Bend Trail
Students and staff from St. John’s Lutheran School did more than just walk a mile in the shoes of the less fortunate. They walked nearly three miles along the River Bend Trail on May 12, participating in a virtual global event that demonstrates to participants the challenge experienced by people in developing countries who are simply trying to access fresh water.
“We are seeing what it is like to walk six kilometers,” said Sherry Koch, a teacher at St. John’s and the advisor for the school’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society, which organized the event at the school. “Some people in Africa need to walk that distance to get water.”
The Walk for Water is an event that raises awareness of the struggles for clean water in developing countries, and also collects donations which benefit the World Vision’s water initiatives. That organization estimates that six kilometers is the average round-trip distance women and children in the developing world walk to access water – water that is often contaminated with life-threatening diseases. Their goal is to provide resources that could bring the technology and the infrastructure needed to find, collect, and store clean water in these areas, allowing these affected children to focus their time instead on their education.
“The impetus for this was the National Junior Honor Society students that really wanted to do something else as a service project that we could participate in,” said Koch. “They were the ones who came in and marked the trail with some fun signs, and they also put together some slides that advertised it within our student body.”
“We did this to help all children in Africa have access to fresh, clean water,” said Janna Jacobson, an eighth grader and President of the Board for the National Junior Honor Society at St. John’s. “We did this once when I was in third grade, so we decided to do it again.”
“We did participate about four years ago,” Koch confirmed. “We hadn’t revived it since then. This year it’s looking a little different, but this year we have this great River Bend Trail. We’ve been able to use that, and we’ve been able to walk from the school to the trail.”
“We were blessed with a beautiful day!” added Koch.
The River Bend Trail was decorated by members of the school’s National Junior Honor Society the evening before, with chalk art at the start and finish lines, as well as words of encouragement along the way. On the day of the event, the starting line at the Agra Pavilion was filled with dozens of fourth through eighth grade students eager to hit the trail, bring awareness to a good cause, and enjoy time outside of the classroom.
“It was really fun,” said fourth grader Madi Klump, age 10. “I really enjoyed it. When I’m at home, I always go for a run with my mom.”
Fourth grade classmate Olivia Smith, also 10 years old, ran the distance, rather than just walking, and echoed those same sentiments, even though it was the furthest she’s run prior to this.
“It was fun,” Smith said. “[Six kilometers] was harder than I expected, but I really like to run so I really enjoyed it.”