Poland students help provide drinking water to Kenyan communities through beading project
May 11, 2018
Poland Central School District Kids Against Pollution, Poverty and Prejudice club members string beads together for a project with Just One Africa that will help supply clean drinking water to people in Kenya. From left: Colin Haver, Noah Lamphere, KAPPP co-advisor Sally Leahy, Landon Rommel and Trent Hobin.
POLAND – As Poland Central School District fourth-grader Isabella Barrows-Drennen, 9, recently strung together beads as part of a project to provide clean drinking water to people in Africa, she reflected on the impact of what she was doing.
“I think it’s very helpful, and we will help people in need,” she said. “It makes me feel happy and grateful.”
Poland students in the school’s Kids Against Pollution, Poverty and Prejudice club worked on the bead project after school on Tuesday, May 1. The project is done through nonprofit organization Just One Africa’s “Beads for Water” program.
Just One Africa purchases paper bead necklaces created by Kenyan women from recycled magazines in rural Kenya and brings the beads to the United States. U.S. students and other volunteers then string the beads together, and the strings of beads are cut to make bracelets or other jewelry.
As the bracelets are sold, 100 percent of the profit goes to Just One Africa’s clean water program. Each bracelet purchased provides 200,000 gallons of clean water for communities in Kenya – enough water to supply for five people for 10 years, according to the nonprofit.
For every five bracelets sold, Just One Africa can purchase a clean water filter for the Kenyan communities. Each water filter provides up to 1 million gallons of clean water – enough water to supply for 25 people for 10 years, according to the nonprofit.
The strings that Poland students beaded will go on to get cut into bracelets by the organization. The KAPPP club will have other bracelets from Just One Africa for sale in the coming days.
Poland KAPPP club co-advisors Michael Gagnon, an English teacher, and Sally Leahy, a special education teacher, organized the project at Poland along with high-school KAPPP leaders: club President Gabrielle Stemmer and Vice President Ashley Lynch. Elementary students in the club then did the stringing of the beads along with the organizers.
“We did it because we wanted to see them engaged,” Lynch, 16, a junior, said. “I’m glad to see the kids having so much fun, and we’re actually helping people, so it’s really cool.”
Lynch said she is happy that the club was able to take on a global-level project and that the students’ effort will have an impact on African people getting drinking water.
“It’s really interesting that people in America can help people over there,” she said. “It makes me thankful to have this in our school.”
Gagnon initially got the idea for the project when he saw something similar during a conference. He researched options of organizations, and Just One Africa’s “Beads for Water” program seemed like a great fit because it has educational aspects, helps people and reaches beyond the club’s usual activities.
“This felt a little more global,” he said.
When discussing the project with elementary students, Gagnon pointed out that it deals with all aspects of the Ps in the KAPPP name: pollution through recycling paper to turn it into the beads and avoiding polluted water, poverty through helping people living in poverty in Africa and prejudice through removing prejudice about African tribes.
“This actually hits on all three Ps, which is kind of cool,” he said. “We’re helping impoverished people in Africa get clean water they don’t have access to.”
‘To help other people’
Just One Africa makes it easy for schools to be involved and makes it clear to students the impact they’re having, Leahy said.
“I think it’s a great beginning to help them think about what’s outside their own little community,” she said, noting that most people probably take clean drinking water for granted. “I think it’s just the beginning of understanding global aspects.”
Leahy saw a different side of some of the students as they worked on stringing the beads outside of the normal classroom atmosphere, she said. When you’re working together to help people, it doesn’t matter what your score was on the spelling test, she said.
“They’re engaged in it,” she said.
Fourth-grader Trent Hobin, 10, said doing the project is stopping people in Africa from having to drink dirty water with diseases in it.
“It’s cool. I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “I’m glad that we’re doing it because it’s saving people’s lives.”
Fourth-grader Noah Lamphere, 9, said he enjoyed stringing the beads for a good cause.
“It’s fun, but hard,” he said.
Fourth-grader Landon Rommel, 9, said assisting others is a “respectful” thing to do, and he feels “good” about helping to provide clean water.
Fourth-grader Amber Muller, 9, also was happy to be involved.
“It seems pretty fun, and I’m helping the African people,” she said. “Honestly, I think that’s the best part – to help other people. It feels pretty good on the inside because knowing I can help others is honestly pretty cool.”
Poland Central School District Kids Against Pollution, Poverty and Prejudice club members string beads together for a project with Just One Africa that will help supply clean drinking water to people in Kenya. From left: KAPPP co-advisor Michael Gagnon, Isabele Horan, Emily Smith, Amelia Guarasio, Corrine Earl and Faith McGurk.
Poland Central School District Kids Against Pollution, Poverty and Prejudice club members string beads together for a project with Just One Africa that will help supply clean drinking water to people in Kenya. From left: KAPPP Vice President Ashley Lynch, Mason Hart, Amber Muller, Grace McOwen, Ariel Pope and Isabella Barrows-Drennen.