JCPS Students Help Bring Clean Drinking Water to Peers in Uganda

Students raised funds for 6 water collection systems at Ugandan schools

November 11, 2021 – Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students from three middle schools are helping to bring safe, clean drinking water to their peers in Uganda.

The students, from Olmsted Academy South, Westport Middle School and W.E.B. DuBois Academy, partnered with the Ugandan Water Project, which implements and advocates for clean water solutions in Uganda, to raise funds for rain water collection systems at schools in the African country. Along with the project, the middle school students studied the global issue of safe drinking water, and pledged to do their part to solve a real world problem.

“We did this because we would like them to have clean water like us, and not get sick,” said Ruba, an Olmsted sixth-grader. “We hope our donation helps you.”

The project helped students “make the bridge between what they’re learning in their classroom …. and real world applications,” said Jessica Alinaitwe, director of community partnerships for the Ugandan Water Project.

Kickstarted with a $10,800 grant from Louisville Water Foundation, the JCPS students raised an additional $9,709 – enough to fund the 3,500-gallon water collection systems at six schools.

“The Ugandan Water Project gave our students the opportunity to not just learn about the worldwide water shortage, but also to make an impact,” said Westport science teacher Natalie Butcher, whose students took part in the project. “It was a priceless, life-changing experience for our kids, as well as for the kids in Uganda.” 

Among other components of their studies, students read “A Long Walk to Water,” which follows the journeys of a young girl and boy in Sudan who each travel miles in search of clean water and family. Students from Olmsted South re-enacted the walk by carrying gallons of water around their school track.

“For the water walk we had to carry one or two gallons of water around the track one or two times to get an experience of what the Ugandan kids have to do,” said Savanna, a Westport Middle seventh-grader. “But we all know that they have to carry more water, go a farther distance, and do that multiple times a day.”

“This partnership allowed our learners to do something about and make a difference for a real-life issue people their age face every day,” said Olmsted South English language arts teacher Kimberly Tuney. “They were able to grow their skills as globally and culturally competent citizens by learning about the water crisis and giving to a great organization that will ensure a better life for two communities in Uganda.”

Channa Newman, education and outreach manager for the Louisville Water Foundation, said her organization was inspired by the opportunity to help local students better understand the water crisis that children in other countries like Uganda deal with on a daily basis.

“We’re proud to be a leading gift for this project,” Newman said. “Creating a world where everyone has access to safe drinking water requires a global solution. We’re inspired by these students’ interest and passion to be part of that change.”

For more information, go to www.UgandanWaterProject.com.