“You wouldn’t want to drink this water would you?” Winter Vincent, a 9-year-old surfer from Australia asked an auditorium filled with Old Donation School (ODS) students as he held up a glass filled with what resembled globs of mud.
Serious replies of “no, no, no” echoed throughout the room.
Vincent went on to share that as an avid surfer, he became passionate about a very important cause – working with an organization called Waves for Water, which raises awareness and funds to help purchase portable water filtration systems for people in third-world countries.
“All of us can drink as much water as we want and I couldn’t believe how many kids [in Indonesia] were dying each day just because their water was dirty,” Vincent told the eagerly-listening students. “That really made me want to do something about it.”
To date, Vincent has helped 70,000 people through the organization and on Oct. 6 ODS students will also join the effort by hosting a “Surf to School Day.”
Students will don on their favorite surfer attire that day and bring in spare change which will be donated to the cause to purchase five-gallon water buckets equipped with water filtration systems that can provide water for up to 100 people.
Principal Dr. Kelly Hedrick said the idea to help with this effort came from students.
“Two of our students, one in elementary and one in middle school, who are surfers happened upon another group of students who were doing a lemonade stand to benefit Waves for Water,” she said.
Shortly after the students met, Hedrick received an email from the mother of one of the students, who was interested in bringing the program to ODS.
Hedrick didn’t hesitate to help because it fit right in with the school’s service learning, which is an integral part of the curriculum and instruction at ODS. Sustainability is also an important divisionwide initiative.
“One of the things that we focus on with all of our students is finding your passion and using your gifts and talents to also make a difference for others,” she said. “The reason I wanted Winter to come was because at age nine he recognized his passion for surfing, identified a way in which he could make a difference doing what he loves to do, but impact people in a positive way. I can’t think of a better model for children than to see someone who is their age doing exactly what we encourage them to do.”
Students not only gave the assembly high marks but also asked insightful questions.
“What inspired you to do this?” one student asked.
Vincent replied that he first learned about the cause during a big surfing competition he was attending. What made an impact with him was learning that one in five children in Indonesia die from drinking dirty water.
“That really made me want to do something about it,” he said.
“Do you know why they have dirty water sources?” another student at the assembly asked.
“Well, Indonesia is so poor,” Vincent shared. “It’s a very small country and their only water source is rain. They don’t have the money to buy these tanks so they collect water from rivers and streams.”
Students also asked Vincent about how many children across the world he has helped thus far and what they can do to help.
Ultimately, students understood that they can make a difference in the world.
ODS student Serenity Lynch thought it was a “cool assembly because you can filter water and it can help a lot of people.”
The pictures that Vincent showed of himself helping people in Indonesia using the system also made an impact on fourth-grader Vivian Lea who described the pictures as “really touching because they helped us learn about the people in Indonesia and their lives.”
More importantly, she said, “I think it’s going to make a different in the lifestyle of third-world countries and their economy. That’s a good thing.”