Are You Up For The Challenge?

Andre Lucas and Clarissa Arceo

On Saturday, March 7, Downey High School’s Thirst Project club hosted their annual Walk for Water. Participants were given the opportunity to walk around the track carrying up to two gallons of water or large jerry cans in order to empathize with the millions of people in developing countries in Africa displaced by the global water crisis. Furthermore, the event featured a few notable people from throughout the community such as prominent members of the Thirst Project organization and city officials.


Vice President for Student Activation for the Thirst Project organization, Evan Wesley, who was present at the event, established the exigence of Walk For Water, which was educating the community on the global water crisis. He gave an in-depth explanation of the impact this crisis has on people around the world.


“Right now on our planet, there are over 600 million people who don’t have access to basic, safe, clean drinking water… and it’s not just a big number,” said Wesley. “It means every day millions of women and children walk miles to fetch water from dirty mud puddles, swamps, rivers, and streams. It means that communities don’t have access to food security because they don’t have access to water security. It means levels of health and sanitation plumet when children and women are forced to walk miles a day to collect water from open, unprotected sources.”


Even though the club’s mission matters to each member more than what they get out of it, Downey High school’s Thirst Project club received a number of accolades for their work in combating the water crisis in terms of fundraising.


Co-advisor of the Thirst Project Club, Alex Gaytan, joined the club once he became inspired by the founders’ passion to change the world. After a year of being an official club at Downey, he has overseen it’s successes in terms of raising awareness and fundraising, which has earned the club recognition, for it is now considered a legacy school, which Gaytan talks about.


“Downey High School is a legacy school for the Thirst Project… meaning that we’ve raised so much money, so you have to raise a certain amount of money and accomplishments and awareness,” Gaytan said. “Whether it’s spreading awareness, whether it’s raising money, Downey High School is amongst one of the top schools in the nation… there’s very few legacy schools, and we’re one of them.”


A couple of hours into the event, participants had the opportunity to dunk Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco in a dunk tank. After falling in the water tank several times, Mayor Pacheco gave her comments on her experience as well as what Downey can do to further educate the city on the water crisis.


“When you’re up there, it’s exciting because you don’t know if you’re going to fall into the water, so you constantly look over to the side to see if you’re about to get dunked and then once you get dunked, it’s cold water. Really, really cold,” Pacheco stated. “Events like this are very important because a lot of people don’t know. They don’t know how fortunate we are in our city [to have clean water.]”


Aside from educating the public about the water crisis, participating in a water dunking contest, and getting recognized as a legacy school, all interviewees above agreed that compared to last year’s Walk for Water, this year’s walk had a more substantial turn out, which in their eyes, is a step toward the right direction — raising awareness about the water crisis.