Students learning to pay it forward with special project for international cause

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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - A group of central Kentucky 5th graders is taking on a big project to help improve the lives of other children their age.

The 5th grade class at Brookside Elementary School in Nicholasville is raising money to help build a well for students at Topene Primary school in Mozambique, Africa.

Rachel Butler is a teacher at Brookside. She said the 5th-grade teachers decided this year they wanted to teach their students to be kind to others.

"We are reading a book titled "Pay It Forward" where students learn to be kind to others by doing something for them that they couldn't do for themselves," Butler explained. "In reading, we read a Scholastic article that featured a 14-year-old girl and her daily chore of retrieving water for her family. We learned about the astounding statistics surrounding the global water crisis and the desperate need for children in Mozambique to have clean water for survival. So, we decided to take action and pay it forward by building a well."

More than 14% of children in the African nation do not live past the age of five, and only 30% of people in the country have access to clean drinking water.

The cost of building a well is $12,000 which the students and staff know is a hefty sum. Even though the goal is lofty, Butler says the children are passionate about meeting the mark.

"We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response for our kids. They are working together in creative ways to make this happen. They are writing to community businesses, donating their allowances, talking to their neighbors and collecting donations, working with their churches, and much more," Butler said.

"Our well project is so important because kids in Mozambique aren't living past the age of 5 because they are drinking dirty, gray water. Girls aren't able to get an education because they have to work hard to get water for their families," said student Keelyn Daniel. " It's so important to think about others and what they need and then do something about it. Our water is a luxury; they deserve clean water too".

In addition to bringing in loose change and asking for community donations, the 5th-grade class held an Entrepreneurs Fair where students sold items to the student body. The students donated more than $2,000 from the fair alone toward building a well. In all, they've raised more than $5,000.

They have other fundraising projects in the works as well but are also taking online donations through the end of the year.

Even though they still have ways to go before reaching their mark, the teachers say the lessons learned from this project go beyond the classroom.

"We are hoping that the kids learn to selflessly serve others. We want to teach them that they truly can be the change that this world needs and by working together, they can make a huge difference in the lives of others," Butler said.

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