By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — Have you ever wondered what it might be like to carry five gallons of water three or four miles every day so your family can have water to drink?
Now you may be able to find out.
The Boyceville High School Advanced Placement Environmental Science class is holding the Boyceville Water Walk and 5K at Tiffany Creek Elementary Saturday, May 12, beginning at 9 a.m.
The public is invited — and encouraged — to participate.
The project is part of the College Board’s AP with WE Service endeavor, said Jenna Willi, AP Environmental Science teacher at Boyceville High School.
“They sent out e-mails last year to AP teachers to gather interest in participating in the project. They encouraged specific AP classes to integrate service learning projects into their curriculum to help students experience the application of their learning to the real world. We applied and were accepted to be part of the program last summer,” she said.
“WE Service has selected two themes for students to tackle this year, biodiversity and clean water. Mrs. Willi’s class split into two groups for these topics, as our interests were different,” said Emily Voelker, a senior at Boyceville High School who has been working to organize the Water Walk and 5K.
“The goal for each group is to make an impact in our local community and an impact in the world. I chose the clean water group and was voted to be one of two leaders, the other being Rian Corr,” she said.
“This project is student organized and led, and it is not a requirement. Students who choose to complete all of the elements required by the WE Service guidelines and take the AP Environmental Science test will receive a distinction on their transcripts as it relates to their efforts,” Willi said.
The Water Walk part of the event is a mile walk that can be incorporated into the 5K, Voelker said.
“Walkers and runners of the 5K have the option to carry water, the size varying from a gallon jug to a five-gallon pail filled to your liking,” she said.
Those who wish to be Water Warriors will carry one gallon of water through the entire 5K run/walk, Willi said.
“We suggest using a backpack, and we will provide the gallon jug of water,” she said.
Completing the Water Warrior portion of the 5K will earn you a stainless steel “Water Warrior” bottle.
“The other way to earn a Water Warrior distinction is separate from the 5K. People in teams of two or four can carry either five gallons or 10 gallons, respectively, for a one-mile stretch. These Warriors also will earn water bottles, and the team or teams that can complete this in the fastest time will earn some free pizzas and beverages,” Willi said.
The main Water Walk is on the Wellness Loop the elementary students walk before school on Wednesdays, an 800 meter loop that travels around the new softball field and the football field, Voelker said.
Walkers are challenged to carry as much water as they can for one mile or two loops, she said.
“This is to simulate people in poorer countries that walk miles each day to get water for their family. The goal of the water walk activity is to raise awareness by getting a more personal experience,” Voelker said.
“For reference, one gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. Amounts vary, but the estimated amount of water an adult woman carries (in other parts of the world) to bring water for her family is about five gallons. The average distance this water will be carried is between three and four miles,” Willi said.
There is no entry fee for spectators or people wanting to participate in the bake sale or silent auction, Voelker said.
Baked goods will be donated by students — or anyone else who would like to help a good cause, she said, noting the silent auction items also will be donated.
The registration fee for the 5K is $20 and includes a t-shirt. Registration will be accepted right up until the start of the 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, May 12, Willi said.
“T-shirts may be delivered at a later date if we run out of sizes. But we will do the best we can to have some on hand. Anyone who just wants to do the one mile Water Walk, the entry fee is $5. All of the rest of kids’ activities, games and other events are free to the public,” she said.
All proceeds from the Boyceville Water Walk and 5K will be donated to WaterAid.
WaterAid is an international non-profit organization established in 1981 as a response to the UN International Drinking Water & Sanitation decade. The organization provides clean water, toilets and hygiene education and has so far reached nearly 25 million people, according to the WaterAid website (www.wateraid.org).
“About one in nine people in the world don’t have access to clean, drinkable water on a daily basis and must walk to dig for or gather whatever they will need for the day,” Willi said.
“This means many young women and children cannot attend school, all for water that is barely drinkable to begin with,” she said.
WaterAid helps drill wells and provides education to communities so they can build their own wells and have access to better sanitation, Willi said.
“The world loses a child under the age of five every two minutes due to illnesses caused by dirty water and poor toilets,” she said.
“Raising awareness for something we don’t think about everyday is important in helping those in need,” Voelker said.
“I think a lot of us forget how fortunate we are when it comes to water. There’s a lot of people out there without the ability to take a hot shower everyday, without safe drinking water coming out of their faucets, and even people (who) don’t have access to water within 10 miles of their home,” she said.
“And that’s just the beginning,” Voelker added. “What about the health risks in those poor communities? WaterAid is a great organization to support, and the AP with WE Service project is a great way to learn about environmental topics in school and to apply it to your community.”
More than 5K
The Boyceville Water Walk and 5K is “a lot more than just a 5K,” Willi said.
The games, activities, silent auction and bake sale will be open and running at 9 a.m., she said.
“It is free to come in and check out what is going on. The only fee is for the 5K and Water Walk. Feel free to help us cheer on the participants and see all of the wonderful donations,” Willi said.
Posters and signs will be along the trail, both the cross country route, which is the high school cross country course, and the 800 meter loop, containing interesting facts about WaterAid as well as general hygiene and safe water information, Voelker said.
The Boyceville AP Environmental Science class also has set up a Facebook event page. Search for “Boyceville APES 5K Water Run/Walk.”
“We have posted updates, pictures of the t-shirts and water bottles, and items that were donated to the silent auction,” Willi said.
“I am so proud of our AP Environmental Science students, and so thankful for the support and encouragement of the staff, faculty and administration of the Boyceville school district,” she said.
Many of the students have put in hours of extra time to make this event run, Willi said.
“They are so excited to raise awareness and funding for this very real and important cause. Whether they have put their time into this Water Walk, into biodiversity/pollinator lessons for the elementary students, or simply into the research, paperwork and leg-work needed to make our WE Service projects a success, they have all had a part of making an impact, big or small, in their school and community,” she said.
“This is an amazing opportunity for both the 2017-18 APES class and the Boyceville community,” Voelker said.
“It is my hope they can take experiences like this with them as they graduate and continue to make positive changes to their world,” Willi said.