Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Cool – and Important - Project

Although I can see two lighthouses from just outside my house, and as the crow flies they are only a few blocks away, to visit them I have to walk about 20 minutes. I have to go around the harbor and over the bridge onto Simmons Island.

On my walk to the pier, I pass the Kenosha Yacht Club, the History Center, and the O. Fred Nelson Water Production Plant, part of the Kenosha Water Utility. In the summer, I often stop for a drink at the water fountain (a bubbler to my Wisconsin friends) outside the water facility building. Somehow, I think that water is fresher than what I might have carried in a water bottle.

Today I want to tell you a little something about some people who work at the water facility. This is not about water treatment but about treatment of people who need water. And its not here in Kenosha. It’s in Guatemala. And it’s very cool.

It is a program that was set up through the Wisconsin Water Association’s “Water for the World” project. The project, in conjunction with other sponsors such as Rotary Club, help people primarily in Central and South America get safe drinking water, like that which comes out of the bubbler across the harbor. I take that water for granted but in many places good, clean water is not so easy to come by. Volunteers and funds donated from across the United States, and here in Wisconsin, have helped set up water systems to get safe water to people in several of these communities.

But there’s more. In addition to providing water, volunteers are also helping teach our children about this important project through a website called Adventure Kids Learning Expedition. With the help of the Kenosha Unified School District staff and volunteers at the water facility, technology allows children in Kenosha and in another community in Wisconsin to follow the activities of the volunteers as they build the water system. The website also has information about the country, its people, and how to design a water system. There are problems for the kids to solve, a photo journal, and resources for teachers on the website, too.

What a cool thing this is. Bringing water to those who need it, and teaching those who have it how important it is. And that it doesn’t come easily to everyone. I don’t think the kids who participate in this learning experience will ever take the clean water from a bubbler for granted.

I plan to follow the volunteers, too, as they report on their progress from March 11 to March 18. Join me.

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