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: