Using the Power of Community for Advocacy on #WorldWaterDay

Jennifer is a writer at another jennifer and the creator of simple giving lab. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order. Her upcoming book, Simple Giving, will be available on 10/27/15.

The wind was whipping fiercely when I woke up on Sunday morning. I checked my weather app and the “feels like” temp was -1. I peeked out the window, and it was snowing. My outdoor workout was happening in about three hours. I’d need extra layers.

It was World Water Day. The year before, I had been in Nicaragua with WaterAid America on an insight trip to see their work in the indigenous communities where 80% of the people lack access to safe water. I wanted to do something in honor of it again this year, so I had messaged my trainer, Luke Robinson, about how important the cause was for me.

Could I take over our regular Sunday morning fitness class and tell a water story? Maybe we could even raise some money for WaterAid America while we were at it. I sent some photos from my trip to get his brain going.

A woman carries water from a well in Nicaragua with her daughter. (photo credit: Jennifer Iacovelli)

It took about a minute for Luke to respond and say he was in. The next day, I had a chance to tell him more about my trip to Nicaragua and shared some thoughts I had for our workout stations that were based on my experience. We decided to donate the proceeds from the morning’s class to WaterAid America and I’d contact WaterAid America to let them know what we were doing. Luke would plan a workout that would tell our water story. Simple.

Our “Bucket on Head with Farmer’s Walk” station mimicked carrying water back to the village while holding the hand of a child. (photo credit: WolfPack Fitness)

Truthfully, I haven’t found too many people here in Maine that I can have a good conversation with about global development. I tend to get funny looks when I talk about dirty water and toilets. But it made sense to get my gym involved with World Water Day because WolfPack Fitness is no ordinary gym. It’s a community of supportive, caring members who embrace new people and ideas with open arms. We make things happen. Together. Whether it’s deadlifting heavier weight, cooking dinners for a woman who just had her third baby, or volunteering at a local farm.

Men from WaterAid America’s team in Nicaragua push our car to get it jump started. (photo credit: Jennifer Iacovelli)

World Water Day just happened to fall into our #40DaysOfGiving, something another member of WolfPack Fitness came up with when she proposed giving during Lent instead of giving something up. It just happened to fall on a Sunday, when we have our regular Primal Fitness class that is open to the public. It was perfect.

Our “Human Car Pushing” station mimicked how our WaterAid America team in Nicaragua had to push our car to get it started.(photo credit: WolfPack Fitness)

When I found out from WaterAid that they were encouraging people to wear #Blue4Water, Luke posted something on our event page. I posted about my trip and why the day was important to me. People responded immediately.

On that cold morning, with the wind still whipping, more than 40 people showed up wearing blue, ready to celebrate World Water Day.

Before our workout, Luke explained the importance of the day, showed a few of my Nicaragua photos on a screen in an unheated barn and walked us through the 11 stations that told our water story. We danced to “Splish Splash I Was Taking a Bath” to warm up and then had a killer workout that mimicked everything from pumping wells to carrying a bucket of water on our heads back to the village.

I’m not sure anyone else would have known it was World Water Day had I not asked to commemorate the day. Yet we became a part of the global conversation around clean water and sanitation that morning. More than 40 people left with a feeling that they had been part of something meaningful. And they were.

Advocacy isn’t something that has to take up all your time and effort. Sometimes it’s just a matter of bringing your cause to a caring community you already belong to.