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Walk for water on Sunday

by HANNAH NEFF
Staff Writer | April 22, 2022 1:05 AM

Since freshman year, three Coeur d’Alene High School seniors have been driven to help end the global water crisis.

Emily Forslof, Zoey Hart and Rayla Atwood have spent much of their high school years raising money for the Thirst Project, a nonprofit organization.

Through the nonprofit, $12,000 funds a freshwater well for a village in Eswatini, Africa. Last year, Forslof said they reached that goal after three years of running through the stands at football games for miracle minute fundraisers, shaking water jugs full of change at Panhandle Kiwanis’ Taste of Cd’A and other fundraisers.

However, Forslof said one well isn’t enough. For their senior year, the girls set a new goal to raise another $12,000 and fund a second well before they graduate high school in June.

“We want to be able to graduate high school having funded two wells, not so that we can brag about our success, but so that the water we take for granted can be used by everyone,” Forsolf said. “We may not be able to end the water crisis, but we can at least give one more community clean water.”

To raise the funds, the seniors are hosting a Walk for Water fundraiser. According to the Thirst Project, the average distance someone in a developing community walks to fetch water is 3.75 miles. This task often falls upon women and young children, depriving them of the opportunity to get an education or job to help support their family.

According to World Vision, 785 million people lack access to clean water. Women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours hauling water every day, and more than 800 children under 5 die from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices according to World Vision.

Forslof said to somewhat simulate the work women and children in these developing villages have to do on a daily basis and raise awareness of the global water crisis, the seniors are hosting a pledged walk of about 3.6 miles from Coeur d’Alene High School to Shadduck Park. The walk will end with yard games and a picnic sponsored by the Panhandle Kiwanis and Blue Smoke Barbecue.

The base pledge to enter the walk for community members and students is $25. Through the Thirst Project, it takes $25 to give one person safe drinking water for the rest of their life. Forslof said in raising $12,000 to fund a well, they can save a whole village.

She said their hope is that by putting community members in the shoes of these real people, they can help end the crisis one well at a time.

The seniors learned about the Thirst Project through being members of the Key Club, a community service club for high school students. They are also all members of the National Honor Society.

Hart said she grew up doing community service with her mom and was just used to helping her at various functions and events. When she started high school she decided to join the Key Club because she liked volunteering.

“I love going out and helping people and making a difference in the community,” Hart said. “Seeing something that I did, and our group did, making that change, that was just really impactful.”

Atwood said she also grew up volunteering and really enjoyed the experience.

“It’s an easy way to get involved with the community and feel like you’re doing something,” Atwood said. “It has morphed a lot since freshman year and definitely has grown into something more personal because we’ve become more connected.”

Forslof said she felt the three of them grew closer through their volunteer work, and it has been a great opportunity to make new friends.

The Walk for Water campaign on Sunday will start at the south entrance to CHS by the large V. Check-in starts at 12:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 1 p.m. The first 160 people will receive a free T-shirt.

For those interested in donating but can’t attend the walk, donations are accepted at the CHS office before May 6.

photo

Coeur d'Alene High School senior Zoey Hart holds a gallon of change at last summer's fundraiser to fund a well in Africa through the Thirst Project. Photo courtesy of Emily Forslof