CTAUN’s 2006 Best Practices Award was presented by Phyllis Hickey, CTAUN Director-at-Large.

Ms. Hickey announced that one award was presented for this year for a Best Practice based on the 2006 Conference topic: The Global Challenge of Water”.

The award winner was Eileen Venezia, Science Teacher, Grades 5-9, in the New York City Public Schools for her project, Understanding Water Sustainability—The LifeStraw. The objective for this project was to raise students’ awareness of global water issues and their own role as water stewards. After discussing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the children selected the topic of water sustainability as an ongoing unit of study for the year.

Ms. Venezia described the project. The children read many articles and researched statistics on water-related diseases in underdeveloped nations. They began to see the link between poor sanitary conditions and their effects on children like themselves. They were encouraged to compile their own research and stories to be shared as a group. Sixty children participated in an Eco-Toon” portrayal of Vestergaard Frandsen’s LifeStraw,” an individual portable water-filtering device (www.Lifestraw.com). They decided to email Vestergaard Frandsen individually to learn more about this fascinating tool. One by one they began arriving in class with their own LifeStraws. The teacher then received a call from Frandsen himself, encouraging the students and offering support as she described the details of the project.

The resulting product was a collection of cartoons in book format. The titles covered all areas of concern including: The effect of water-borne disease on children; the resulting lack of education – primarily for girls—who must make the daily walk, very often for miles, to the water well; and problems arising from the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene (See also the WASH project at (www.wsscc.org). The students’ interest in the LifeStraw” as an effective purifying tool led a group of them to enter their work in the Dept. of Environmental Protection Agency’s annual contest in April 2006, where six of the seven entries were New York city-wide winners on the topic of Water.”

Ms. Hickey drew the attention of the audience to the display at the rear of the room illustrating the Best Practices Award project. Further information regarding the LifeStraw may be found in the program summary for the 2006 Conference on the CTAUN website. See this website also for further information regarding the annual Best Practices Award.