Gr8 Health: Local school helps another across the globe

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – With all of the snow, sleet and rain, it seems like water is everywhere in Central Indiana right now. But other places around the world constantly face the exact opposite problem.

In this look at Gr8 Health, we see how a school here in Indiana is using water as a dual lesson: to improve the health of its own students and of students in drought-stricken parts of the world.

“By the time I’m done,  I’d be kinda tired!” said 3rd grader Hudson Pangan with a smile on his face and a broom handle with two 5-gallon buckets over his shoulders.

He’s taking his turn at a chore that all students at Sycamore School are doing during PE class. They are shouldering awkward loads to experience what life is like for children who have to haul water in water-starved parts of Africa and Asia every day.  The water-lugging exercises are just part of a project called “Access to Water.”

The project is part lesson, part fundraiser.  The goal is to raise awareness among Sycamore School students as they and their families raise money to help a school in Zimbabwe drill a permanent well.

“Really helping an actual school of 750 kids get water? I feel like that’s gonna be the spark,” explains parent Dheepa Maturi. “Maybe these are our future social entrepreneurs who will actually solve the crisis, not just understand it. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Project planners found a novel approach for the fundraiser; they’ve challenged families to forgo sweet drinks for water. If they slip up, they have to make a donation.

“But some people drink a lot of soda and a lot of juice, so it’s harder for them,” says 6th grader Madalyn Sailors.

Sailors and her classmates all have a water bottle that they’ll carry for the duration of the project.  At home, those students hold mom and dad accountable, too.

“My son saw me drinking an iced tea the other day. I just forgot, and he said, ‘Mom, you should be ashamed of yourself,'” laughed Sycamore School parent Sumi Maun.

She says the Access to Water experience is turning out exactly as she’d hoped.

“Just sacrificing that for two weeks gives them an eye-opening experience about what people are dealing with across the world,” she said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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