Saturday, March 22, 2008

CCF at the Children's Museum of Richmond for World Water Day

By Stephanie Kulenguski, CCF Web Content Editor

The sound of children laughing echoed through the open lobby area of the Children’s Museum of Richmond today. Sunlight poured through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows and illuminated the water structure (made out of water jugs) precariously built to resemble a big whale and a small goldfish.

The goldfish and the whale symbolized how much water the average American uses (80 gallons a day) compared to what a Kenyan family uses (5 gallons a day).

Christian Children's Fund worked closely with the Children’s Museum of Richmond to create an activity to engage children in water issues around the world such as water scarcity, conserving water and what other children around the world have to go through to obtain water.

The Children’s Museum set up a table for us in their Art Studio, and we brought unused water jugs -- donated by Marva Maid and CCF staff -- to the museum for children to decorate in remembrance of World Water Day. We handed out pamphlets to parents with child-friendly activities and stories about water usage in Ecuador, Zambia and the Philippines. One mother asked her son, “Do we use water to grow plants?” The mother went on to talk about how they use water at home for brushing their teeth, filling up the bathtub and washing their hands. Another mother read her daughters, Kaitelyn and Rian, a short story from the World Water Day pamphlet while the girls decorated their jug.

Each child's water jug was unique -- some used paint, others used glue, fabric, markers and assorted materials donated to the museum. One child made sure his mother put his name on his water jug; it was easy to tell that they enjoyed this project and wanted ownership of their masterpieces.

CCF President and CEO, Anne Lynam Goddard, was present at the event. She interacted with the children in the Art Studio and answered media questions from the local NBC news crew that aired the story on the evening news.

About 450 children and parents came to the museum during the exhibit which lasted four hours. CCF’s message was heard loud and clear: clean water is important, not only for us here in the United States, but for people all over the world and we need to work together to find ways to ensure that clean, safe water is available for everyone, no matter where they live.

Friday, March 14, 2008

From Danielle, Tiger Den Leader, Auburn, Alabama

Our Cub Scout pack in Auburn, Alabama discussed World Water Day tonight. The boys were ages 6 to 9, and we also had two younger siblings present, both age 5. We started the activity by looking at the gallon jugs we pre-decorated with some basic facts about clean water. Then, we looked at info from the World Water Day (WWD) resource booklet and pictures from the resource. One boy read the Zambia story out loud for everyone to hear the story in a child's voice. Seeing the muddy water being used was really eye opening for the boys. We read the water facts from CCF's World Water Day resource for children, and discussed each point and how we'd feel if it affected us this way. The older boys explained the harder words to the younger ones, particularly sanitation and hygiene. (We also emphasized why it's important to properly wash hands after bathroom breaks, which is always important to remind our kids.)

The boys were really surprised at how little clean water there is on the planet (1 tablespoon out of a gallon) with the rest being saltwater or muddy water. One fact that really stuck out for the boys is that someone dies every 15 seconds from water borne illnesses. One boy counted to 15 and was surprised at how many people were dying while we were talking. The boys were also really concerned about how long it would take to get water in African countries, and how far the people have to go to get it. The boys discussed missing out on school, learning new things, playing sports, having fun with friends and being too tired to do anything else. The boys asked why there wasn't clean water close to them, and how people could clean their water. The leaders and parents explained how chlorine and filters can clean the water making it safer to drink. We also emphasized how we can conserve our own water, by not filling up the bath tub as if it were a swimming pool, and turning the water off when we brush our teeth.

Next, we allowed the boys to take turns walking around the large meeting room with the gallon of water propped on their heads. While two boys were walking around at a time, the others talked about how tiring it was. They noticed their heads hurt from the weight of the bottle, some water was dripping on them, and their arms were tired. This was only a room the size of 1/2 a basketball court, and took under 5 minutes to walk around. They couldn't believe kids their age do this for 3 to 4 hours at a time!

We focused on some of our discussions and created a poster about ways we use water in our daily lives, and how people in Africa use water the same way we do. We imagined how hard it would be to get enough water to do all the things we normally do, from bathing and cooking to toilets and brushing our teeth. The boys were really imaginative, thinking of some great ways we use water. Some of these were more obvious, like washing clothes and cooking, while a few were truly out of my mind, like using water to make cement and bricks for construction. The boys were very proud of their poster, and each one added some drawings and helped make the list of water uses. We will certainly use this program in the future, as it directly relates to the Cub Scout focus on water conservation.

Taking laps around the large fellowship hall with a gallon of water on their heads. (No racing, since boys would go wild and crash!)
Discussing dirty water and how gross it is to drink.
Discussing how many miles and hours it takes to get water in Africa and other countries, and the things we'd miss out on (school, playtime, games).
Counting to 15 seconds to signify how often someone dies from water borne illnesses.
Drawing a poster about ways we use water.
Talking about how we can conserve water.
Discussing what is being done in other countries to get clean water. (new wells, filtration, chlorine)

What our Poster Says:
Ways We Use Water
Drinking, showering, toilet, brush teeth, bath, cooking, cleaning, washing hands after bathroom, water for our animals, water for our plants, make baby formula
(The boys also included several drawings, including a toilet overflowing onto the hand (poor sanitation) and needing to use soap and clean water to prevent illnesses.)