Darin Trent, a fifth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, demonstrates how people in South Sudan carry water on their heads and back to their village. Contributed photo.
KINGSPORT — Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Kingsport want to change the world.
They are on a mission to raise $11,000 to build a well in Africa. Every 19 seconds, a child dies from lack of clean drinking water or from developing diseases associated with drinking dirty water.
When the students heard that statistic, they felt a desire to help change it. Now, they are trying to raise money in any way possible, including doing odd jobs and collecting spare change from their homes during winter break.
“No matter how old you are, no matter what you’re doing in life, anybody can change the world,” said fourth-grader Sophie Dawson.
The students wanted to build the well after reading “Ryan and Jimmy and the well in Africa that brought them together,” written by Herb Shoveller. The book describes how a 6-year-old American boy built a well in Africa.
The class, taught by school counselor Becky Mann, started the book last December and finished it in March. The class would have discussions about how one person can change the world.
Once the book was finished, some students approached Mann with their desire to build a well. Mann said they couldn’t get the project under way that spring and thought the enthusiasm might die down over the summer.
But when the fall session started, the students kept approaching Mann with one request.
“They kept coming back and saying, ‘We want to build a well, we want to change the world,’” she said. “So we had to talk about it for the reason that we’ve always been a St. Jude sponsor. This school for the last five years has raised over $29,000 for St. Jude’s children. So in order for us to be able to build the well, we would have to put that on hold for a year.”
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