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UT Students Organize Walk for Safe Water in India

April 3, 2016

On April 10, students from the Haslam College of Business will host the first Hands Across the Water 6K or 3K Walk at 1 p.m. at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The event, supporting safe drinking water in India, is a partnership with Proctor & Gamble and Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MITSOM) in Pune, India.

“The distance symbolizes how far people in developing countries have to walk on average for water, which often isn’t safe to drink,” said Sydney Huneycutt, a senior in marketing and co-organizer of the project. “Participants will have the option to carry two gallons of water during the walk with the aim of giving them a better sense of what some children have to face on a daily basis.”

Polluted water in developing countries causes illnesses that kill more people, mostly children, than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. According to the World Resources Institute, 54 percent of India faces high water stress.

Proceeds from the walk will purchase water purification packets developed by P&G that remove more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, chemicals and solid waste. Haslam students worked with their Indian counterparts to identify specific villages needing help and organized a simultaneous six-kilometer walk in India.

“The MITSOM students and faculty members demonstrated how the chemical packs work to villagers in Bazaarwadi, about 65 kilometers from their school,” said Ernie Cadotte, Fisher Professor of Innovative Learning at Haslam. “They have been distributing samples of the initial 2,000 packets that P&G donated and exploring opportunities to expand this initiative to other villages and schools in India.”

The walk is part of P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Project and follows a long line of similar fundraisers started by Haslam freshman Michael Van Dorselear while he was a high school student in Ohio. The first Hands Across the Water 6K Walk was held in 2008 and has since spread to 43 schools, raising more than $100,000. This is the first time the fundraiser has been held internationally.

The walk begins in Circle Park and will follow a circuitous route along Neyland Drive past the UT Gardens and Andy Holt Tower. The event also will include a water purification demonstration and prizes from Amazon. Tickets are available online for $10.

The group has raised $3,200 to date in sponsorships from the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Est8te and The Trust Company among others. Their goal is to raise $5,000. For more details and a full list of sponsors, visit http://www.handsacrossthewaterutk.com/.