Tag Archives: high school

The Water Project: Spreading Awareness Through Bake Sales & Pizza

Written by Joy Gursky, President of the Water Project Club at Zoo Magnet High School, Los Angeles, California

6.3.15HS BLOG

Club members Maddie, Joy, Yanelyn, and Ruby all set and ready for their bake sale

Last summer, a viral online challenge known as the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” began circulating online. People who participated in the viral challenge had good intentions, but every time I watched a video of someone dumping ice and water on themselves, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the fact that Los Angeles was- and still is- experiencing one of the worst droughts in the city’s history. Furthermore, there are 783 million people around the world who do not have access to clean water.

So, instead of complaining about the injustice of the situation, I decided to at least attempt to do something to make the slightest dent in the issue. I established my school’s Water Project Club to support  Good Neighbors’ Water For Life Project. The goal is to raise money to build wells in developing countries where local people have no clean water. Did you know that 80% of illnesses in developing countries are linked to poor water sanitation? That’s a scary fact!


Derrick and Virginia support the Water Project!

I founded the club with fifty-five dollars worth of pizza to get the ball rolling (thanks, Mom) and an overwhelming fear of public speaking. The first few meetings were painful, but I stuttered my way through them. Surprisingly, my personal chapter of the club has been very successful from the beginning. We’ve raised $400 through bake sales, created our own t-shirts, and managed to spread awareness surrounding the global water crisis.


Delicious goodies!

Overall, the Water Project Club has been a phenomenal experience for me. It’s taught me that I want to center my life around serving other people through international travel and aid. In some ways, I really feel like the club has helped me grow up because I’ve learned how privileged I am to live in a place where I never need to worry about where to get something that’s absolutely essential to survival: water.

Thank you for starting such an important club at your school, Joy; and huge thanks to your mom for the pizza and support!  Learn more about how YOU can help people get access to clean water by clicking here

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Next up in our Meet the LA Big 5K Team series is Sarah, an 11th grader who loves watching soccer. She’s really involved in social issues at her high school, and was super excited to join our team. She answered a few questions for us:


Q: Hey Sarah! Have you ever run in a race? How’s your training going?

This is my first time running in a race! Most juniors are done with PE credits, but I’m staying in my JROTC Program for all 4 years, so it’s easy for me to practice running regularly! My friend Max (who is also in JROTC and also in The Net Project club), and I have been running together as well. Training’s a lot more fun when you do it with your friends, so I’m really thankful for JROTC!

Q: What do you love to do in your free time?

As nerdy as it may sound, I enjoy reading in my free time! I’ve always liked reading, because reading a work by a talented writer can introduce you to so many different feelings, stories, and opinions.

Q: What’s your favorite subject in school?

I do enjoy English class, but I would say Physics is my favorite class this year! At first I was wary because it seemed like a difficult subject, but it’s interesting to see how some scientists managed to explain (a few) workings of the world with a few simple variables. Physics is immediately applicable, so whenever I learn something new like how an object rotates, I’m surprised at how often I can immediately connect that concept to things I notice in everyday life.

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Q: What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

I was born with 27 teeth instead of 28!

Q: You’ll be running the LA Big 5K race to support The Net Project, but what are your thoughts about Project Good Sisters?

Although I’m running the LA Big5K Race to raise money for The Net Project at Van Nuys High School, I am a firm supporter of Project Good Sisters and its message of female education and empowerment. I recently read a book called “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in my English class, which covered how female empowerment was essential to the economic/social/etc well-being of a country. Its absolutely unfair that someone’s sex dictates what one can or can not do. Women are a wealth of untapped talent, intelligence, and compassion and I think we–people who have the resources to help out–should work to first, make it even a possibility for women to pursue education and second, do away with the stigma attached to female independence to safely encourage more women to take advantage of their academic opportunities. A study in “Half The Sky” actually dealt with the same cause that Project Good Sisters is advocating; except, in that case, they didn’t fully anticipate the stigma attached to female menstruation and how it prevented girls from attending school regularly. The fact that Good Neighbors thought of ways to comprehensively approach this problem, including book bags to hide the sanitary pads and even outhouses to take care of their business with dignity, won my support. I’m glad Good Neighbors is addressing this often-ignored problem and helping out girls my age receive education.

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Q: What’s The Net Project?

My friends, Hwi Soo Kim (Van Nuys High School), John Kim and Steven Lee (Fairfax High School), and I started The Net Project this school year. The purpose of The Net Project is to send insecticide-coated nets to help prevent malaria in Malawi, Africa. We realized that malaria drugs were too expensive (cheap for tourists, but definitely not for the average Malawian), and resulted in drug-resistant mosquitoes that were even more dangerous. And surprisingly, after research, we found out that something as simple as a net saved lives. Finally, research also showed us that malaria isn’t just a health problem; it’s more than that. For example, Africa loses 12 BILLION dollars in productivity EACH year due to malaria. People sometimes say that fundraising for a disease like malaria is like throwing money down a hole because the community is often unreceptive to the programs that are trying to be initiated. However, Good Neighbors has already established a deep connection with communities in Malawi through their constant and varied aid (such as through building water wells through Water For Life and now, Good Sisters) and thus will be providing welcomed aid to a community whose trust they have already earned. This year, The Net Project as a whole is working together to raise $3000, enough to support an entire community with nets.

Q: What’s special about The Net Project?

I personally think The Net Project is special because as a high school club, it depends on young people being involved. When young people are involved in a humanitarian cause such as this, we’re not only helping others, we’re helping ourselves. Through technology, the world is becoming more “connected” and “globalized”, but often that same technology can make one feel insignificant in the face of the big, quite overwhelming world that exists out there. Helping out in events such as these reminds us that we too are significant, so I really hope that my club members and I will learn the valuable lesson of empathy and our own self-worth through our events this year.

Thanks Sarah, and congratulations on starting such a special project in high school! To support Sarah, please visit her page here and check out the rest of our team here! Want to join? There’s still time – just head over here!

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