The 7th Grade Walk With Water activity returned right before Holiday Recess! This activity is part of the English 7 unit on the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. As part of that unit, Maple Hill 7th graders also participate in the annual Water for South Sudan Iron Giraffe Challenge where any school that raises $1,000 is entered to win a visit from Salva Dut (who is featured in the book) or author Linda Sue Park. The Walk With Water activity is meant to give students a better understanding of what many people in South Sudan go through on a daily basis to get clean water by having them walk 1 1/4 miles around the school while carrying 8lb containers of water. During their walk, they also stop at stations to review vocabulary words, remove “thorns” from their feet (which happens in the book) and practice their “elevator speeches” about the fundraiser.

In the book, the students read two interweaving stories. One is about a fictional character living in South Sudan, Nya – who is unable to attend school because she must walk long distances twice daily to collect water for her family – and another is about a real person, Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy” of South Sudan who resettled in Rochester, NY. Salva founded the non-profit organization Water for South Sudan after he learned that his father had become gravely ill due to water-borne illness. Park’s book weaves these fictional and non-fictional stories together when Salva brings his drill rig, the “Iron Giraffe” to Nya’s village.