Sligo and Leitrim students learn a valuable lesson with Walk for Water

21 April 2023

On the banks of Lough Gill with Hazelwood Forest in the background, the scene for Walk for Water was a far cry from the muddy tracks some have to navigate each day to collect water. 

But with drums of water on their backs, students from schools in Sligo and Leitrim began one of the most educational walks of their lives. 

Uisce Éireann and Green-Schools recently teamed up to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people around the world living without access to safe drinking water and hosted Walks for Water across the country, including one in Co Sligo. 

The annual event, celebrating the value of fresh water in our lives, proved to be an eye opener for students at Sligo Grammar School,  St Cecila’s School, Cregg, Sligo and Masterson National School in Manorhamilton. 

Friends Alana Guckian Walton, Dara Kilcommons and Darragh Lawley  were full of praise for their Geography teacher Ms Deborah Moore and her lessons on the importance of water, but they too were shocked to learn of the plight of millions of fellow teenagers forced to abandon their education to walk miles to collect water every day. 

It has made us realise all the ways we are wasting water. It’s important that we all work together to raise awareness about water conservation. 

“In school we have produced videos and leaflets to ensure the entire school community and their families know about the importance of protecting such a valuable resource.” 

Flanked by eager children carrying water in recycled cartons, Róisín Duffy, a teacher at Masterson NS was one of those who trekked through the forest. 

We only realise the importance of water when we don’t have it. We all know the inconvenience when there is an outage, and we really should be more mindful of how we use it.

“This walk is a great reminder to us all of the importance of access to clean water.” 

Uisce Éireann’s Business Stakeholder and Communications Co-ordinator for the Northwest region, Marian Duggan, shared some water conserving tips with the students on the walk. 

Helping the next generation to understand that the importance of conserving water is a key part of our role in delivering water services for Ireland, so we are delighted to be partnering with An Taisce's Green-Schools water theme again this year. The Walk for Water is a creative way for the students to understand that clean water is a precious resource and that we all need to take action to conserve it,” she said.

Green-Schools officer Robert Nelson proved to be a mine of information, not only on water conservation and sustainability, but also the beautiful surroundings. His knowledge on the trees and animals who call the forest home, and his sharing of biodiversity tips, made the walk all the more enjoyable.

Each year we can see the difference the experience makes for the attending students; they go home with a greater awareness of what water scarcity is, how important conservation and sustainable development has become and, of course, with a greater appreciation for the beautiful surrounds of places like Hazelwood Forest.