According to WaterStep International, 80% of global sickness is attributed to unsanitary water. Since 875 million people around the world live without access to clean water, unsafe drinking water is one of many issues you have the power to do something about. Many teenagers in Kentucky already are, and they want you to come to a celebration and find out more.
Over the week of April 27 – May 4, Student YMCA members from all across the state of Kentucky will be running service projects as part of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). Started in 1988 as National Youth Service Day as a celebration of youth in service, GYSD is sponsored nationally by Youth Service America and encourages youth across the globe to step up in their communities and take action on critical social issues.
In the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association’s first collaboration with GYSD last year, Student YMCAs in middle and high schools organized 36 projects spanning 29 Kentucky zip codes. Projects included roadside and river trash clean up parties, organizing games and activities for children at local parks, sprucing up community butterfly gardens, visiting senior citizens at elderly homes, and getting together groups to walk around town to greet and thank those in uniform. There was even a project that had teenagers mentoring other young people in how to identify, organize, and execute their own service projects.
Amanda Pile, the Kentucky YMCA Outreach and Partnerships Director, feels that service opportunities like GYSD are integral to the Y’s mission of youth empowerment “It’s important that students take everything they’ve learned from Y conferences – self confidence, public speaking, and the passion they have for making a difference in the world – and put it back into their communities to help others.”
She also says that GYSD is a chance for youth to show their communities that their ideas and voices matter. “It’s easy to think that teenagers don’t know what’s going on or don’t know what they think or feel on an issue. A lot of times they just need to be asked, and when you ask you’ll get what they’re passionate about and what they think about issues going on in the world. When you ask, they will not only answer but will give you a solution for it. We really need to be reaching out to our teenagers more.”
The second year of the Y’s collaboration on GYSD also marks a new exciting partnership with Louisville-based WaterStep. WaterStep is an emerging leader in not-for-profit water filtration system assembly and distribution and trains locals how to repair and maintain well systems in remote areas. Student YMCAs can initiate used shoe collection programs in their communities and donate the shoes to WaterStep, which will resell the better shoes to small independent shoe sellers in third world countries and the unusable shoes to rubber recyclers. The profit generated is put toward building simple chlorination systems – each capable of purifying up to 38,000 gallons of water a day, enough for up to 10,000 people. As few as 2,000 pairs of old shoes can pay for one chlorinator.
In celebration of youth empowerment and service, the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association and WaterStep are hosting a public GYSD service project and party in Louisville on Saturday, April 27 at WaterStep’s headquarters at 625 Myrtle St., Louisville, KY. The service projects run from 10:00am through 2:00pm. Student YMCAs that have been collecting shoes are encouraged to bring their bounty. The GYSD party begins at 2:00pm. Fellowship, food, drinks, music, and fun are included and all are welcome! To let us know you are coming, go to http://www.123contactform.com/