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Children Get Active with UNICEF USA in a Water Walk
Throughout this summer, UNICEF USA Community Engagement Fellow, Chandni Jain, and Intern, Ciara Stewart, have led a Water Walk at a camp in San Francisco. The goals of the Water Walk are to teach camp participants about the challenges many children face around the world when trying to retrieve clean drinking water, to discuss the specific tools UNICEF uses to aid vulnerable children and their families in those countries, and to present ways the camp participants can positively impact vulnerable children’s lives. The Water Walk is an activity that simulates children from around the world who walk several hours each day to find potable water. At the beginning of the activity, the camp participants are given the scenario that they are responsible for retrieving water from a lake for their village in Nigeria. This is extremely relevant because Nigeria is currently one of thirteen countries that are experiencing severe famine and drought. The Water Walk requires the kids to use their imaginations to visualize themselves in this scenario. Chandni and Ciara go through a series of instructions for the kids such as 1) “skip for two minutes from the village,” 2) “do high knees for one minute to avoid the sharp rocks on the ground,” 3) “duck walk for twenty steps to hide from scary people nearby.” After about twenty-five minutes of walking, push-ups, skipping, and resting, the children have reached the “lake” to retrieve their water. The lake is simulated by using UNICEF collapsible water jugs, which are used in the field during emergency relief. Then the children pick up the water jugs and walk back to their village. When the Water Walk activity is over, the kids gather for a discussion led by Chandni and Ciara.
During the discussion, Chandni and Ciara talk about gender inequity - specifically how many girls are out of school for reasons such as having the responsibility of retrieving their family’s clean water each day. To address this issue, UNICEF has programs through the UNICEF Gender Action Plan that bring these girls back to school. Chandni and Ciara also show various field supplies that are included in UNICEF emergency kits for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) purposes and explain their significance.
The Water Walk discussion ends by empowering the camp participants on how they can make a difference in other children’s lives by educating others and fundraising. The children are encouraged to share what they learned about during the Water Walk with their families and friends. They also learned about Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, which is a UNICEF USA fundraising program where children receive orange Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes and go around to neighborhood houses asking for donations to UNICEF as they trick-or-treat on Halloween. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised over $175 million since its start in 1950. Another fundraiser the children learn about is UNICEF Kid Power. UNICEF Kid Power is a growing movement that allows kids to make a difference with every step they take. Kid Power involves children wearing UNICEF Kid Power wristbands and downloading the smartphone app that connects to the band. The band is a fitness activity tracker and for every 60,000 steps taken, a therapeutic food packet unlocks for a child in need from UNICEF USA funds. These are all impactful ways children can become involved in saving vulnerable kids’ lives.
To learn more information about ways to engage youth in the Bay Area, please contact Bay Area Community Engagement Fellow, Neda Dai, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chandni gives an introduction to UNICEF and instructions on the Water Walk.
Ciara instructs the children on their next Water Walk task.
Chandni discusses gender inequity in education with camp participants.
The camp participants carry their collapsible water jugs to their village.