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Students’ clean water project models global stewardship

At one of more than a dozen tables in the Church of the Nativity School cafeteria, seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher Bill Powers and students put together a water filtration system from a kit. The students are (clockwise, from left): seventh-grader Trevor Murphy, first-grader Gabby Hancox, sixth-grader  Reese Cullor, third-grader  Anisley Cook, fifth-grader Matthew Warren, third-grader Henry Hawkinson and eighth-grader Patrick Adriano. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Olivia Martin

LEAWOOD — Imagine sitting down to cool off with a big glass of brown, murky water. Refreshing, right?

This image may seem comical, but it is the depressing reality of billions of people around the world.

In fact, around 2.5 billion people — 35% of the global population — do not have access to clean and safe drinking water.

And the students at Nativity Parish School in Leawood decided that was unacceptable.

On April 11, 270 kindergarten through eighth-grade students gathered to build 70 clean water filters for people in Guatemala and other countries. 

Lyndy Volker, mother of three Nativity students and a member of the school’s parent-teacher organization, came up with the idea months ago after learning about the nonprofit Wine to Water (W2W), an organization that supports clean water worldwide.

“I [built water filters] with my company [through W2W] and thought it was a unique experience,” said Volker. 

It was an experience she knew she had to share.

“The world is so much bigger than what we see,” she said. “I want my kids to understand that things so common to us are critical to others.

“We take water for granted.”

Nativity parents donated over $3,500 to purchase W2W’s instructional framework and filter components for the project at Nativity.

Students first watched instructional videos on the water crisis around the world and then were taught how to assemble the water filters.

Next, they got to work. Each student, from youngest to oldest, had a hand in the filters’ assembly.

First-grader Lucy Kilroy found building the filters well worth her time.

“It was easier than I thought,” she said. “I liked it because we were helping other people.”

Eighth-grader Trinity Samuelson agreed.

“Freshwater levels are dropping for other people,” said Samuelson. “Water is a necessity for us, so we are trying to make [access to it] happen . . . [because] we are Catholics and want to bring good.”

The project was the direct result of Nativity’s focus on stewardship as both a parish and school community.

“Stewardship is so important,” said Nativity principal David Kearney. “Giving of our time and talent to show our appreciation for what God has given us is [crucial].”

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Olivia Martin

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