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Walk helps raise awareness for water carriers

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lifestyles Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Just six laps around the gym in, Cara Helgeson’s arms ached as she gripped two gallons of water.

Only 21 more laps to go.

About 500 Forestview Middle School students walked 27 laps around the gym (or three miles) Thursday in effort to raise awareness for the water carriers of the world.

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The water carriers, often from third-world countries, are mostly women. They are forced to walk an average of five miles a day, carrying up to 50 pounds of water home for their families.

That’s a problem, said Forestview science teacher Sandy Loney.

“One in eight people in the world don’t have access to water, so they walk hours a day for it,” she said.

All week, the science teachers have led activities to heighten students’ knowledge on just what these water carriers go through. On Thursday, students got a small glimpse of what it felt like when they volunteered to walk the gym carrying water jugs.

They raised money for the cause, with the big goal of $9,000 this year, which will provide five schools in Nicaragua bathrooms and hand cleaning stations.

In the last two years, Forestview has raised $18,000 to do the same for 12 schools.

That’s what keeps Helgeson walking, even as the muscles in her arms tighten.

And she was only carrying 16 pounds of water.

“That’s nothing compared to what these women do,” she said.

Although it’s only a fraction of the weight and distance, Loney says the students get the message.

“It isn’t easy,” she said. “They see how important water is. They see how hard it is to carry it.”

Eighth-grader Benjamin Elias raised $181 for the cause.

About 10 laps in, Elias’ arms weren’t tired yet. But there was still plenty of laps to go.

Eighth-grader Nicole Rud said the lessons she’s learned about water carriers are important in life.

“Everyone deserves water,” she said.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at jessica.larsen@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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