Thursday, October 28, 2010

Irondale High School Global Hand Washing Day

To recognize Global Hand Washing Day on October 15th, students from Irondale High School in Minnesota planned an event to raise awareness about the need to wash hands around the world- including before lunch at Irondale! The following report was submitted to H2O for Life from student Hannah Eschenauer.  You too can let us know what your school is doing!  Send photos and a word document.  We'll feature you on our blogsite.

Irondale High School Global Hand Washing Day Report

For Global Hand Washing Day, Irondale decided to cooperate with the Minnesota Department of Health. Members of the Irondale volunteer club helped with running the hand washing station. The station had a box with a hole on top, a hole on one of the sides, and with two black lights inside the box. The students would get some special lotion that glowed in the black light and spread it all over their hands. This lotion would be their pretend “germs.” After putting on the lotion, they would put their hands through the side hole of the box, look through the top hole of the box, gaze in and see their hands and the pretend “germs” on them. After this, we would ask them to go wash their hands. Next they would come back and see how well they washed their hands. They would put their hands back into the box and see that the parts that were still glowing on their hands are the places that they didn’t wash well enough.

This was done at lunch because first of all, it was the best time during the day and second, the students don’t wash their hands before lunch because they want to get in line right away to get their food. Many of the students were surprised at how there were still germs on their hands after washing with both soap and water. We told them that it wasn’t just soap and water, but it was also the amount of time that they washed that mattered. Most of the time, it was in between the fingers and the nails that still had lotion/germs on it. The Minnesota Department of Health provided free nail scrubbers for the people that tried it. The teachers even tried it and that was fun to watch. The science teachers loved it and thought it was very interesting. In all it went really well because it was an interesting idea and also a fun way to see how well you washed your hands. A lot of people tried it out.

Thanks Hannah and Irondale for sharing your story.  Irondale was entered in the contest drawing to win a free "Flip" video camera- but- they weren't the winners.  Try again during our next contest!

Monday, October 18, 2010

World Record for Global Handwashing Day!

Last Friday, our partner in Nairobi, IkoToilets worked to gather huge numbers of students to participate in Global Handwashing Day.  Over 19,000 students came together to wash their hands.  Handwashing is essential to combat disease for all of us.  In  developing countries there is a provide to supply handwashing stations at schools with soap and water.  Schools also are educating youth about the need to wash hands and hopefully the lesson will go home with children to their families.  Education can change behavior!  Take a look at the youtube video celebrating the day in Nairobi.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bathroom Pass

Access to sanitation is a huge problem around the world.  Over 2 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation and handwashing facilities.  The millenium development goals are targeting sanitation, but sadly, we are far behind in reaching the set goal to provide sanitation to areas of need around the world by 2015.

H2O for Life and many other organizations are working hard to raise awareness of the need for clean water, sanitation and hygiene education- and our focus is SCHOOLS!  We truly believe that if we can help provide these necessary facilities, and the education to teach students essential hygiene skills, communities will change for the better.  Studies show that children bring lessons home to their families.  Students are great teachers and can change their families and communities over time. Changing lives at ONE school does make a difference and you can help.

Last week, WASH in Schools was the focus of many meetings in Washington DC.  Global Handwashing Day was celebrated on Friday.  At the Academy for Educationl Development in DC, there was a wonderful photo display called the "Bathroom Pass". The photo and video display documented facilities available in 4 typical schools around the world. One school highlighted was Abington High School located in Abington, PA.

H2O for Life student "Nathan" was asked to photograph and provide a video about facilities located in their school.  Nathan was surprised and thrilled to see a "bigger than life" photo of himself in his H2O for Life shirt.  Nathan has been a member of Abington's H2O for Life club for the past several years.  He and others at Abington have raised funds to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools in Mali, India, Nicaragua, and are currently focusing on a school in South Africa.  Thanks Abington!

The display in DC will be open to the public through November 19th. If you have the opportunity to visit the Academy of Educational Development, please visit the display. It is wonderful and informative. H2O for Life then hopes to be able to post the photos and videos from the display online for all to see.

We are posting photos of students from HB Woodlawn School from Arlington Virginia, and Abington High School as they visited the "Bathroom Pass" on Global Handwashing Day.  Students learned several engaging educational lessons provided by "Project Wet" and H2O for Life that they will bring back to their schools and communities.

We welcome photos and stories from you!  Let us know what your school is doing to help support the global water crisis.  We'll post photos and comments.  Also be sure to visit our facebook page and become a fan.

As always, everything you do affects the world.  Do something GREAT!

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Raising Clean Hands" Our mission- Wash in Schools

Today is Global Handwashing Day.  We have challenged schools across America to plan an event to raise awareness about handwashing, and the lack of facilities in schools around the world.  H2O for Life Schools support WASH in Schools programs by partnering with a school in a developing country that desperately needs water, sanitation and hygiene education.  Students learn about the global water crisis while TAKING ACTION to do something- raise funds- to support their partner school.  We are teaching a generation of students to "think" about water and how we must all work to keep this precious resource protected.

Support for WASH in Schools is growing daily.  Join the movement today!

Read part of the speech delivered at the Academy for Educational Development on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
As Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, I have worked over the past year to elevate two initiatives at Secretary Clinton’s request: water and youth.

Fortunately, today gives me an opportunity to talk about both: the importance of providing water, sanitation, and hygiene education – and the significance of starting early. We must teach our children—our future—to be better stewards of our world’s water and better caretakers of their own health.

No matter where you live—be it Boston or Bamako—schools are the foundation of strong communities. They are, of course, a place where teachers teach and children learn. But they are also a place where community health workers deliver life-saving messages and medicines. They are a place where adults gather in the evening for continuing education and town hall meetings. And they are a place where people come to vote and young democracies flourish.

It is a tragic irony that those who go to schools to learn, congregate, and protect their health, are often put at risk from the school environment itself.

The problem is clear. More than half of all primary schools in developing countries do not have adequate water facilities and nearly two-thirds lack adequate sanitation. Even where facilities exist, they are often in poor condition.

The consequences are threefold. First, health suffers. Schools can—and often do—become a breeding ground for diarrhea, parasitic worms, and other water-borne ailments. The World Health Organization estimates that diarrhea causes 1.5 million deaths per year; many resulting from transmission in schools.

Furthermore, schools without WASH facilities represent a lost opportunity to promote good hygiene behavior in the larger community. Data suggests that students who practice good hygiene in schools also help teach good hygiene practices to their parents, siblings, and friends.

Second, education suffers. Worm infestations can lower children’s IQ scores. Studies show that students are more prone to missing lessons in schools without WASH facilities. Such trends can have devastating long-term costs for students, communities and nations, virtually closing doors to opportunity.

Third, women and girls suffer disproportionately. Female school staff and girls who have reached puberty are less likely to attend schools that lack gender specific sanitation facilities. As we increasingly recognize the contribution of women to household income, health, education, and nutritional outcomes, nations simply cannot afford a lag in women’s education and literacy.

The bottom line is this: If we are serious about improving child health, achieving universal primary education, ensuring gender equity, and stimulating economic development, we need to be serious about providing safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education in schools.

Schools, organizations, churches and individuals can join us in our mission to bring water to schools.  Help raise awareness of the issues in your community, and make a donation today to a group that is working to bring water to schools.

 We must ensure that WASH is incorporated in school curriculum and teacher training to complement the infrastructure with appropriate hygiene and sanitation messages and skill-building.
I would just close by pointing out that this Friday, October 15, the world will commemorate Global Handwashing Day. On this day, educators in countries around the globe will be showing their students how to wash their hands. It sounds simple to an audience that is accustomed to automatic faucets. But sadly, hundreds of millions of children will not be able to practice their handwashing lessons at school.

This is where we all can make a difference".

You can make a difference today!  Schools, organizations, churches and individuals must talk about the water crisis to make people aware of the issues, and TAKE ACTION.  Partner with a school in need and donate to an organization that is working to bring WASH programs to schools.  Working together will solve the global water crisis.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Children Should Carry Books, Not Water

Recently, Nathan Strauss, an H2O for Life students was honored at an event in Washington DC for his efforts to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools around the world. 

Story submitted by John Sauer, Water Advocates                              

U.S. Raising Clean Hands Campaign Launched:

 WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) Is Essential to Achieve Universal Education

October 13, (Washington, DC) – Nathan Strauss, 17, a student at Abington Senior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is part of a growing movement of America’s youth who are stepping up to make a change in the lives of the students around the world who are carrying water and not books.

Even for those children that have the opportunity to go to school, students lose 443 million school days each year due to diseases associated with the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Repeated episodes of diarrhea and worm infestations diminish a child’s ability to learn and impair cognitive development. This problem is exacerbated by the more than half of all schools in developing countries that lack adequate WASH facilities.

“I had no idea of the magnitude of the issue and I was shocked to find out the severity of the crisis and the number of students like me across the world that still don’t even have a toilet at their school. Doing something about this has become a really big deal for me,” said Nathan Strauss. “I think America’s youth has great potential to do something about this problem; if everyone gets taught the issue, we can all help. Imagine if all the students in America were a part of this; the change would be enormous,” he continued.

Nathan is not alone. Nearly 30 organizations launched a campaign in the United States today at an event at AED to demonstrate that providing water, sanitation and hygiene education in schools globally can help solve the WASH and education challenge around the world. Through this campaign, and an exhibit called “Bathroom Pass,” these organizations highlight the solutions they are currently implementing and urge the U.S. Government, the World Bank, and other actors in the education and health sectors to bring WASH to schools in the developing world.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero stressed, “The bottom line is this: if we are serious about improving child health, achieving universal primary education, ensuring gender equity and stimulating economic development, we need to be serious about providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene in schools.” She emphasized the important role of students, like Nathan, to participate in service learning projects that help them engage in concrete actions to help others around the world. Earlier this year on World Water Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that global water issues would be a priority for the U.S. Government.

Other speakers who highlighted the need to act included Carol Bellamy (Education for All - Fast Track Initiative), Clarissa Brocklehurst (UNICEF), Jack Downey (AED) and Denise Knight (The Coca-Cola Company). Jon Hamilton of NPR served as the moderator.

Nathan took action by helping to start a club through H2O for Life to raise funds to help schools in developing countries; the money is used to improve access to clean water, build toilets and handwashing stations, and provide hygiene education. So far 120,000 students across the U.S. have participated in H2O for Life service learning programs. Nathan’s story is highlighted in the “Bathroom Pass” exhibit, as are the stories of three students from Honduras, Madagascar and Nepal.

As a part of this campaign the organizers are challenging you to:

• Live for one day on the global minimum standard for water—approximately 5 gallons per person per day for drinking, cooking and bathing.

• Wash your hands at critical times: after using the toilet and before preparing food or eating.

• Start an H2O for Life club at your school like Nathan and his classmates did. Visit

The launch of this campaign is timed to coincide with the week of Global Handwashing Day, October 15, when 200 million children, parents, teachers, celebrities and citizens in over 80 countries are raising attention for handwashing and for WASH in Schools. Visit

We invite schools in the US, and other Nations around the world to join H2O for Life in our mission to bring water, sanitation and hygiene education to schools.  Mobilize your school or organization and Make a Difference!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Students make a "Splash" on the Hill in DC

Yesterday, October 6th, students from HB Woodlawn School in Arlington, VA visited and spoke to leaders on Capitol Hill. Teacher Cecilia Allen and students Mary Shields and Delaney Steffan were invited to share their views on WASH in Schools programs.

Here is a portion of the article written by Christina Maria Paschyn, published on October 7, 2010.

Washington, D.C. - Experts and advocates from humanitarian organizations stressed the need to provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and instruction for school children in the developing world at a congressional briefing yesterday.

Two out of three schools in the developing world lack decent toilets, according to UNICEF. The World Heath Organization estimates that 272 million school days are lost each year due to diarrhea and some 400 million school-aged children worldwide have worms.

Pamela Young, a senior basic education advisor for Plan, explained how water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (such as latrines and hand washing stations) are vital in schools for increasing classroom attendance and learning.

H2O for Life students had a chance to speak as well.
"As students in Arlington, Virginia, we know that we lead very privileged lives and that there's no way to compare our lives to those of children in much of the developing world," said high school junior Mary Shields, who described how she first realized the importance of WASH while working in a remote hospital in Rwanda. "I personally witnessed the birth of a child in 2010 in Rwanda who went home form the hospital to face the challenges that come from living in an area without access to clean water."

"I find it appalling that girls my age have to stop going to school when they reach puberty because they lack acces to adequate sanitation," she added. "It is unacceptable that children arrive into the world in this day and age without acces to clean water" Through various fundraisers, Shields and her class raised money for WASH programs for school children in Cameroon.

It's wonderful, and essential that schools across the US take on big challenges! The youth in our country are passionate and willing to work on issues that they care about. It is our job as teachers, parents, and leaders to raise awareness about important issues and allow our youth to be part of the solution! Thank you HB Woodlawn for your past and future work!

To view the entire interview and see the videos, visit:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

H2O for Life-Off to a fantastic fall!

Where did the summer go? By now we are all back into the fun and frenzy of the school year. Many schools have already chosen their WASH in Schools partner for the year, but if you haven't, now is the time! Please see our list of available schools.
There are many exciting events on the horizon. Keep checking back to our blog so that you don't miss any of them. Also, join and visit our H2O for Life Fan page on Facebook.
As for exciting events? Today, Oct. 6, two young ladies from H.B. Woodlawn School in Arlington, VA spoke to a Congressional meeting on Capitol Hill. They spoke about their school project in Cameroon, and how it affected their own school and their lives. Teacher, Cecilia Allen, accompanied the girls to the event. It's another example of how engagement in a meaningful service learning activity can lead to exciting learning opportunities! Way to go girls!
Next week, Oct. 15, in Washington DC, Abington High School, PA and H.B. Woodlawn, VA will be presenting activities at a youth engagement event being sponsored by the Academy of Educational Development, and Water Advocates. H2O for Life and Project Wet will be providing curricular connections and activities for DC students attending the event. There will be a photo and video display of sanitation around the world. (including the sanitation of a local US school to show the contrast between our schools and schools in developing countries) The display will be ongoing for the month of October.
Global Handwashing Day will be celebrated on Friday, October 15. H2O for Life is hosting a contest for all interested schools. Plan an event, activity or celebration for Global Handwashing Day and send us a photo of your students in action. One lucky school will receive a flip video camera. To enter, send us a photo and your school will be entered in a drawing for the flip camera. Show students washing hands, designing posters- whatever event helps raise awareness!
A little further down the road, November 19, we celebrate World Toilet Day. Check out world toilet day activities online. Think about it! Two Billion People are standing in line.
If you are looking for even more information on WATER for your classroom, National Geographic has recently launched a curriculum based around water. Check their website at, click environment and it will lead you to "Freshwater". There are great lesson plans, videos and a variety of information at your fingertips.
H2O for Life is working with several organizations to plan a nation-wide Walk for Water in the spring. No matter what your school is doing this year for your water project, save room and time to add a "walk for water". Watch for our connecting activities and ideas with Youth Service America, ( the National Youth Leadership Council( and others as we join forces to raise awareness and funds for the global clean water crisis.
Remember, it only takes a single drop to create a ripple. Lets turn a ripple into a wave of water! We need your help. Join H2O for Life Schools today.