|Grade 11 LCI student Emmanuelle Knapik helps fill a water bottle for Westminster School Grade 5 student Peter Johansen on Friday morning. Westminster School hosted a celebration, breakfast and assembly to mark the unveiling of the Cargill Water Station, the first of its kind inside a Lethbridge school. Herald photo by Garrett Simmons|
Emmanuelle Knapik has had her frustrations with the water fountains at her school.
"I couldn't fill up my water bottle with them and they are all very old," said the Grade 11 student at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute.
So, through the Association to Kill Apathy, which Knapik is involved with at LCI, she decided to do something about it.
"We take on challenges and come up with solutions," said Knapik, who added this solution involved Internet research on water fountain technology and ways to help fund the installation of new water stations.
That work has paid off for one local school, as Friday morning, Westminster School celebrated the installation of a new water station, the first of its kind inside a city school. Knapik spoke at the school's assembly, and helped fill the first water bottle for a Westminster Grade 5 student. She was all smiles as she finally got an up-close look at the type of water station she hopes will eventually be commonplace in more city schools.
"It's really exciting. I've only seen pictures of it online. It looks better in person," said Knapik, as she added LCI has yet to acquire the funding for a similar water station.
At Westminster School, the project was a collaboration between Knapik, Lethbridge School District No. 51 and Cargill, who funded the water station. Westminster principal Nancy Brown said everything came together quickly, thanks to a fortunate set of circumstances.
Cargill and Westminster had collaborated on another project eight months ago, at which time the company asked about the school's interest in submitting a grant request for a water station. Brown was researching the type of water station suitable for the school when she heard of Knapik's work. After the LCI student's research went to the school board level, the district approved Knapik's water station choice, and the rest was history.
"The timing and the synergy of it was amazing," said Brown, who touted the benefits of the new water station. "It's more attractive for the kids, and now they can bring their water bottles into class, so there's less disruption with them leaving to go get a drink. And, it's fun and cool."
A ticker at the top of the station tracks how many water bottles have been filled, as Brown added it will be interesting to see how much water students are drinking.
Aside from the health benefits of drinking more water, the water station also fits in the school's efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, a focus at the school.
"We collect tabs and bottles and recycle them and clean them," said Grade 5 student Isabel Crown, who added money from the tabs goes to support Ronald McDonald House. "We also have sponsors who help, like Cargill, who are giving us free water bottles to reuse."
Grade 5 student Aroma Pageni highlighted Westminster's use of metal utensils and bottle drives to keep plastic out of the landfill. Peter Johansen, a Grade 5 student who was the first to fill up his water bottle at the new station, said students recycle paper to do their part and avoid using plastic or foam cups.
It's Knapik's hope students in other schools will be filling their water bottles from new water stations in the near future, and of course, she'd like to have one her own use.
"This is just the first school. My goal was to get one at our school, but I haven't accomplished that yet."