Each year in English class, sixth graders at Shady Side Academy Middle School read the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, which tells the story of a young boy named Salva Dut and his struggle to provide his family with clean water in South Sudan. On Friday, Dec. 17, the sixth grade class held its annual walkathon to raise money for Dut's nonprofit organization, Water for South Sudan. With the help of their sponsors, the students raised a total of $1,875! Sixth grader Shalin Thosani designed a sticker for those who donated.
Water for South Sudan drills wells in South Sudan to provide a source of clean water for villagers. Access to clean water transforms villages, allowing children, particularly girls, to go to school instead of spending their days journeying long distances to carry water to their homes.
A Long Walk to Water tells the story of Dut, who was taken away from his family as a boy because of war and became one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. After living in refugee camps for several years, he was chosen to go to America and live in Rochester, N.Y. A few years later, he returned to South Sudan to see his father, who was very sick in a hospital after contracting a disease from the water. Dut founded Water for South Sudan to make sure no one else would suffer or contract a disease from dirty water.
After reading and discussing A Long Walk to Water in class, sixth graders asked family members to sponsor them in the one-mile, on-campus walkathon with a donation to Water for South Sudan. Their goal was to raise at least $1,000, which makes the school eligible for the Iron Giraffe Challenge, a chance to win a virtual visit from Salva Dut or author Linda Sue Park.
The SSA sixth grade has been supporting Water for South Sudan for the past five years. Congratulations to the sixth grade class, and to their English teacher, Pam Onest!
View the sixth grade walkathon slideshow: