Canadian Catholic school to become bottled water-free zone
By Armella Sonntag
Catholic News Service
NORTH BATTLEFORD, Saskatchewan - It was back in October 2010 that a group of students at John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford began their journey to make their school a bottled water-free zone.
Nearly two years later, their perseverance is having a significant impact: the school soon will become a bottled water free zone as new water refilling stations have been installed.
It was after a presentation by Audrey and Clarence Briand, members of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, on the environmental and societal impacts of bottled water that a group of students felt compelled to act.
“I thought it would be cool to take this on,” Meghan Mercer said.
The Briands were part of a campaign launched by CCODP to raise awareness of the growing trend to privatize water and the importance of countering that trend by drinking from public water sources whenever possible.
Mercer, along with her brother Dexter and fellow students Katrina McKinnon and Jillana Schmidt, organized the campaign to end the use of bottled water through the school’s Key Club. Designed by Kiwanis International, the Key Club helps students develop leadership skills through involvement in their schools and communities.
“It’s our job to do social justice work in the Key Club,” McKinnon explained. “Our school has a Christian base, and we are stewards not just of people, but of the environment.”
Schmidt noted out that the club had tackled other environmental concerns, so looking at bottled water was a natural extension of its work.
Club members recruited the support of staff and students, leading to a presentation to the Battleford town council. The presentation prompted council members to declare a bottled water-free day March 10, 2011.
The students also approached the school’s Visions Committee, made up of administration and staff, to consider a ban on bottled water in the school and to install water filling stations to replace the old water fountains. The Visions Committee readily endorsed the plan.
While it took time to implement the full project, the students never gave up. In May, two water refilling stations were installed at the school. The students said the stations are catching on. One is located outside the gymnasium while the other is in the students’ commons area.
“In the past, students never would have used the old water fountains,” Dexter Mercer said. The refilling stations “are a physical reminder to students and staff to be mindful of the environment,” Meghan Mercer added.
John Paul II Collegiate is the first school in the Light of Christ Catholic School Division to install water refilling stations, but word has spread. The students have heard that because of their work other schools in the Battlefords, Saskatoon and Regina are considering the same kind of project.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops