Before learning how to teach kids about water conservation, hand washing and healthy habits, 38 Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) employees in Bangalore, India; showed off what they already knew. Almost three-quarters of the employees could name everyday actions to conserve water, and more than 85 percent knew healthy habits that can help prevent the spread of disease. However, when it came to knowing how much of the Earth’s surface is water, how much of the world’s water is available as fresh water for human use and how long it takes to properly wash hands, the employees didn’t fare quite as well. That knowledge gap highlighted room for growth for Project WET Foundation International Senior Program Manager Morgan Close, who was training the group.
The training in Bangalore was part of a larger partnership between LS&Co. and the Project WET Foundation to develop custom water education materials and train LS&Co. employees—designated "Water Ambassadors"—to teach children about water conservation as well as water and health. The program kicked off earlier this year during LS&Co.'s worldwide day of service, Community Day.
After three hours of training, 93 percent of the employees could successfully answer the question about the percentage of water on Earth surface—it’s 71 percent, which the employees learned by tossing around an inflatable globe in an activity called “The Blue Planet”. Ninety percent of them had retained that washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs, and more than half remembered that only .003 percent of the world’s water—a literal drop in the bucket—is fresh water readily accessible for human use.
Just as important as the facts that the employees learned were the hands-on, interactive teaching methods that they learned to help them share the information with students. Of the 38 employees trained, 20 were available to lead activities at a water festival scheduled at a local school the next day.
The school chosen for the festival is one of several sponsored by the Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a Bangalore organization dedicated to transforming the lives of underserved children through high-quality education. The Parikrma Model “addresses every aspect of a child’s life” to ensure a “nurturing and stable home environment and a very high quality of learning in school”. Nutrition and healthcare are also a focus, making the Project WET water and health activities especially relevant to students.
On the day of the festival, 120 Parikrma students from fifth through eighth grades learned about water from the newly trained LS&Co. employees. They learned about healthy behaviors that prevent the spread of disease through activities such as “Healthy Habits Tag”, shown in the video below. They also had their turn with “Blue Planet” to figure out the percentage of water on the Earth’s surface, and learned about water conservation through “My Water Footprint” (see second video).
Best of all, many of the LS&Co. employees who participated in the training, festival or both expressed interest in continuing to volunteer in schools to teach kids about water using Project WET’s innovative, engaging teaching activities.